ACTA Vote Coming but Anti-Piracy Could Have Consequences for Business

If your business relies on intellectual property, you may sympathize with efforts to pass a multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement as a way to protect your valuable business information, especially on the Internet. As a vote draws near on the controversial agreement in Europe, however, critics also fear ACTA could restrict the free exchange of information and make Website and other online service operators responsible for policing and even violating the privacy of their users and customers. Here is where things stand with the controversial treaty today.

Where We Stand

He won’t take no for an answer. Resistance to the ACTA treaty in the EU in particular is strong, but that’s not going to deter the commissioner in charge of pushing ACTA through the European Parliament, Karel De Gucht. Despite De Gucht’s certainty that support of ACTA is the right decision, opponents worry the treaty’s vagueness could open the door for curtailing the free flow of information on the Internet, which is so important to economic growth. TechDirt

Right or wrong. Although De Gucht may insist the passage of ACTA is the right choice, the apparent disregard supporters have for widespread opposition to the agreement may say something about how the eventual rules would be applied. European Commission

The Anti-Trade Trade Agreement

ACTA: Bad for trade. You would think that if the proposed ACTA treaty is really good for global business, it could at least gain support from an organization like the International Trade Committee. Not so, as it turns out. The committee has already rejected the treaty 19 to 12. The Verge

Let freedom ring. Freedom on the Internet is critical for many businesses, which is why so many Web workers and entrepreneurs get so burned up over ACTA and the US Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Vigilance is needed if business on the Internet is to remain free, says blogger Zac Walton. More proposals are doubtless coming, whether ACTA is approved or not. WebProNews

Protection vs. Freedom

A better mousetrap. Ofcom, a UK regulatory agency for TV, radio, fixed line telecoms, mobile devices, and postal services, may have a better idea for combating intellectual property theft and protecting users’ privacy: Establish an appeal process for alleged violators. TechCrunch

Copyright and business. The new proposition from the UK regulatory agency incorporates many of the concerns registered over an earlier proposal. The question with all intellectual property rules is how they achieve a balance without destroying the ability to exchange information freely. One concern from a business perspective is whether misuse of infringement claims restrict this exchange. Ofcom

Achieving Balance

Protecting your creativity. No matter what the reaction to ACTA, this post makes an excellent point about the need to do something to help protect businesses whose product or service is their intellectual property. These businesses loose big time when Internet pirates steal their property and profit from their innovation. This Is Cornwall

Unintentional consequences. Dutch economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen and junior justice minister Fred Teeven best explained the concerns many have over ACTA. The Dutch cabinet, they said, would not sign or ratify the controversial anti-piracy agreement because it is too open to “unintentioned interpretations with negative consequences.” Dutch News

A Brand New Threat

Regulating the Internet. Some critics say another potential threat is brewing. A UN attempt to severely reduce the Internet’s role in economic growth and restrict the free flow of information is in the works. This all sounds sufficiently menacing to concern those whose businesses are dependent upon the Web. Fox News

Raising a red flag. A recently leaked document from the UN’s International Telecommunications Union indicates some member states hope to “use international agreements to regulate the Internet by crowding out bottom-up institutions, imposing charges for international communication, and controlling the content that consumers can access online.” Worried? You should be! The Wall Street Journal

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.