Cory Doctorow posted this frightening bit after looking over a leaked copyright treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA):
Obama’s administration refused to disclose (the full text) due to “national security” concerns. It’s bad. It says:
* That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
* That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet — and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living — if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.
* That the whole world must adopt US-style “notice-and-takedown” rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused — again, without evidence or trial — of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.
* Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM)
Find more specific details about the treaty here.
I wonder whether this would ever pass in its current form, given that Google and Yahoo own YouTube and Flickr, respectively. The problem appears to be precisely that governments are keeping this agreement secret. The talks were initially focused on stopping counterfeit merchandise, but have expanded to public policy. If you disagree with the direction talks are going (according to the leak), or want governments to stop negotiating this treaty in secret, the EFF has more on what to do.