New negotiations for an international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) kick off today, and this round focuses on a secretive internet piracy plan drafted by the US government. No text has been released, but secret copyright treaty details have surfaced. It's not looking good.
The leaks suggest that countries who sign up to the US-promoted plan would have to force ISPs to proactively police copyright on user-generated content, cut off those accused (or face liability), and put "graduated response" clauses in customer contracts. An example of graduated response is France's "three strikes and your out" law. There, you get two warnings if caught sharing music or movies, then you're banned for up to two years.
This provision would mean that every country that signs up to ACTA must allow content owners such as record companies and Hollywood studios to sue ISPs for failing to stop their subscribers from illegally sharing copyright-protected material such as music and movies.
By the way, two major sources of counterfeiting — Russia and China — aren't in the talks. If you want to get your head further around the issue, these sites do a great job of breaking it all down: [Electronic Frontier Foundation and PC World via BoingBoing]