Thursday, July 05, 2012

ACTA rejected by EU

If you've been watching the morning news on the BBC or ITV you'd have seen that the EU have rejected proposed ACTA legislation. Oh wait no you wouldn't - if you'd been watching RT this morning you would have, but it seems ITV, at least, thinks breast-feeding moms are more important that allowing large companies to effectively censor the entire internet using the government as their tool.

Now I've already mentioned why I think ACTA was a bad idea, but I want to look at if from the other side for a moment after all if this treaty does have "real and significant merits" what are they?

I don't know, in fact it's difficult to find anyone stating what they are beyond the vagaries of promotion of jobs due to better intellectual property enforcement. The latter of course being a joke, if IP isn't being enforced then the only people to blame are the companies themselves as they're the ones who have to do the enforcing.

The real question is - should this be the case. Consider someone stealing a CD from a store; it would be considered odd if it were up to the company itself to take the accused to court; such prosecutions are handled by the state. Why should this not apply to copyright theft?

To me the answer lies in the misuse of language - we say that it's copyright theft or that a design has been stolen; except it hasn't. Nothing has been taken. If I steal a CD from a store that store no longer has that CD to sell; if I copy that CD without buying it that store still has that CD to sell - nothing has been stolen; no theft has occurred.

Hasn't money been lost though? If take a copy of a CD hasn't the company lost the money I would have spent with them had the copy not been available? No because that's theoretical money; there's an assumption that I would have bought the CD and thus the company would have made money. We already have situations for loss of theoretical money and that progresses through the civil courts which is where copyright cases already reside.

Let me exaggerate should the loss of theoretical money become a criminal offence - I have a job interview the means of which I'll attend by train. The train is late, I miss my interview, I don't get the job. I can now have the government prosecute the rail company for the loss of my theoretical earnings. Essentially any action that prevents me making money could be considered a criminal matter.

Okay straw-man, as they're explicitly making this for copyright and intellectual property, but the same underlying principle applies - the loss of theoretical money being considered a criminal offence.

The impetus behind ACTA is that companies should no longer have to be responsible for protecting their own assets; oddly enough companies are all in favour of that.


Rob O'Shea said...

Interesting blog

FlipC said...

Thanks it just irks me that unless it's something easily digestible legislation doesn't get the coverage it requires.
"An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."