A discussion draft of a secret ACTA International copyright treaty has been leaked to Wikileaks.
The treaty, between the European Union, United States, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Australia and Japan was agreed upon in 2008, but despite requests across member nations, no Government so far has released any of the details.
The copy at Wikileaks is an early discussion draft, which parts missing and comments left by the various signatories, but what is there paints a disturbing picture of international co-operation on the issue of intellectual property.
The core of the document details how each party should deal with intellectual property matters, including costs, complaint process and legal standards. Where it goes further is with the introduction of set rate penalties based on types of infringement, and further makes no clear distinction (that I could see) between a commercial piracy outfit, and a kid at home downloading a movie on BitTorrent.
While international co-operation on issues such as these isn’t out of the ordinary, it’s the secrecy around the document that has caused alarm so far; and it turns out that it was justified. The net effect of this treaty is to overrule local laws and to increase the severity of intellectual property/ copyright laws in signatory nations. Maybe not police stat level, but in places like Australia and parts of the EU which don’t have as strict an interpretation of copyright (for example, you can legally rip a DVD in Australia), this document could force local laws to be changed.
You can read the full document via the links page on Wikileaks here.