Another Big Hollywood-Technology Battle is Coming

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Hollywood and the technology business often butt heads. The latest skirmish was over the "Stop Online Piracy Act," a measure some might say was well intentioned but an overly-blunt instrument. That isn’t to say content piracy is a non-issue.

But there was concern in many quarters that the bill would have forced Internet service providers and application providers to act as content police under circumstances where a broad chilling effect would have been seen.

The growing battle over Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will be the next fight.

Technology and copyright interests often clash because copyright holders fear that new technologies will disrupt existing business models and undermine intellectual property rights by enabling new forms of piracy. It is a legitimate concern, though some would say quite often overblown.

For some, the issue with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is less the severity and danger of its provisions than the practical implications for Internet service providers and application providers who would have to act as content police.

For others, the rougher edges, in terms of criminal liability, were softened while still adding a new level of cost, uncertainty and potential legal exposure in many parts of the Internet ecosystem.

Some say the agreements were negotiated largely in secret and also are being put into place by executive fiat, without lawful assent of lawmaking bodies.

Countries such as India have expressed concern that it conflicts with the TRIPS Agreement. Other elements of the agreement increase the standards in the WIPO Internet Treaties and the commercial scale definition at the WTO. The agreement adds new criminal provisions, pressures ISPs to take greater action, and heightens border measures. There remains ongoing debate as to whether the substance of ACTA requires legislative change in many signatory countries (a somewhat dated site on many ACTA issues here).

Beyond the substantive concerns, the ACTA process remains a major issue as it sets a dangerous precedent for international intellectual property agreements. Here’s lots of background on ACTA

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Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Editor

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