Michael Geist discusses ACTA on CBC’s As It Happens. Obviously this discussion looks at the ACTA negotiations and policy in a Canadian context, but it’s absolutely relevant for other parts of the world including Australia.
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Michael Geist, Law Professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, discusses the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, better known as ACTA. The discussion also turns to secrecy and transparency issues with ACTA and recent efforts to shed light on the text of the treaty.
There’s a reason you don’t hear much about international trade agreements. They are kind of dull, and they’re usually not very controversial. But the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is different.
"One feels that you’re almost in a bit of a twilight zone," says Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. "I mean, we’re talking about a copyright treaty. And it’s being treated as akin to nuclear secrets."
For several years, the United States and other developed countries have been quietly working on ACTA. Geist has been one of the loudest critics of the proposed pact. He says it’s a counterfeiting agreement in name only, and he thinks the treaty would actually change some of the fundamental rules governing the Internet. But what makes Geist really angry is the way it’s been negotiated.
"Virtually none of it has been open to the public," Geist says. "Even the early meetings were actually held in secret locations, so no one even knew where they were taking place."
"Why Copyright?" is the central question in locating the importance of copyright within larger political debates — what are the impacts of copyright reform on art, creativity and culture? What are the impacts of copyright regulation on the future of the internet and other mobile technologies? What are the larger issues of digital advocacy inspired by current copyright debates? And finally, what are possible repercussions on online public forums and governance?
Answered in four parts by Dr. Geist, the fate of creativity and cultural preservation, and a more general address of how Canadians can access, use and share knowledge serves to counter common arguments in the media couched in issues of illegal downloading through peer-to-peer networks, digital locks, and software piracy.