How Legislation aiming at Piracy and Copyright Infringement Can Affect Information Technology

by Modis on April 25, 2012

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The Internet has expanded a great deal since its conception and with it comes a large spectrum of users from all walks of life. While SOPAandPIPAhavefailed in the United States from protests by tech giants such as Google and Wikipedia, other bills have snuck under the radar. These laws aim to turn the tides against Internet piracy in the United States and beyond. With the job market still under the thumb of a recovering economy, how would the IT specialists fair in the shadow of these piracy bills? [1]

ISPs and ACTA

While some have expressed their concerns, anti-piracy laws could actually boost the job market. Internetserviceproviders (ISPs) are currently not to blame for anything their customers download but originally, under ACTA, they would have been held responsible. Now, the agreement simply says that countries can control the liability involved. This could create jobs for IT professionals who are looking for a position in the anti-piracy speciality. [2]

ACTA will, ideally, be governed by a committee that will not answer to anyone but themselves. In the original trade agreement, the committee could give governments the power to regulate their country’s ISPs by forcing them to block copyright infringing sites or install network-level filtering. These provisions have since been removed from the agreement. [2]

If the blocking of websites sounds familiar, you’ll probably remember the Digital Millennium Rights Act. Under this act, copyright holders can request that a website take down the infringing information or be taken to court. [2]

When you might see it

 In June of this year, ACTA will make its way to the European Parliament, though it’s suspected that many members will reject the agreement. The United States, which has strived to push European copyright enforcement, will see its efforts crash and burn should the agreement fail. Should certain countries refuse to sign this SOPA-like law, theUnited Statescould lobby certain countries with trade sanctions to pressure them into signing. [2]

If this were the case, IT jobs around the world would be affected by rigorous laws — not just in the United States. [2]

TPP vs. ACTA

The Technological Protection Measures agreement is very similar to ACTA, though it is thought to be a much more extreme version. For instance, underTPPa country would be forced to create a judicial system that would twist the arm of ISPs into giving up the names of copyright infringers. In fact, judges would be encouraged to give a corresponding punishment and enforce the laws pertaining to the agreement. Under ACTA, countries would have the choice of whether or not to participate in this “corresponding consequences” program. [3]

TPP also states that in a patent violation case, fines can be up to three times the cost for a single infringement. A foreseeable problem is the possibility of “patent trolls” waiting around for a violation of their patent so they can cash in on someone else’s misfortune. [3]

Even if violators had no intention of financial gain, they would be subject to punishment underTPP, unlike ACTA. Along those same lines, those infringing upon the laws laid out by this agreement could be punished even if they were unknowingly participating in the act. In fact, they can be hung up to dry even if they had no reasonable way to find out about the provisions. [4]

 

The trade agreement would also allow countries to destroy any equipment used in the process of copyright infringement. For the IT people out there, this means computers, servers, external hard drives and a large list of other items as well. [4]

 

Conclusion

While these laws may one day be official trade agreements, they still have a chance of being edited to be less strict. Ultimately, IT stands to gain a variety of anti-piracy laws, though it remains unclear whether or not jobs will be lost in the process. For the average Joe, it may change what you can and cannot see on the Internet.

 

Sources

 

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-11/webpiracybillsdeadinusfromlobbyingdoddsays.html

 

[2] http://www.zdnet.com/blog/london/howactawouldaffectyoufaq/2773

 

[3] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120402/09551618327/where-tpp-goes-beyond-acta-how-it-shows-us-future-ip-enforcement.shtml

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