Michael Geist has written a timeline for ACTA that is important for anyone to know who is concerned about basic freedoms. This is well worth reading and understanding. And also courtesy Michael Geist is a link to Wikileaks that provides access to the draft legislation.
ACTA is a piece of international legislation that is being developed in darkness that will seriously change everyone's natural freedoms if it is allowed to be brought into law. (Tom blogged about this a week ago). This is no theory – this is a conspiracy – its of global proportions, it involves the most senior government officials together with the heads of all the usual suspect businesses.
The intention of the ACTA legislation included in its first draft language that would have enabled iPod inspectors at an airport to look at the hard drive of any device to see if you have any material on it that they would consider to have been “pirated”. This has now gone, but nevertheless you can see how incredibly invasive the concept is.
The overall thrust of the legislation is to enforce the payment of damages by anyone who has in his or her posession material that infringes either a trademark, patent or a copyright. This frankly very likely includes 90% of the people on the planet, when you think in terms of the number of consumers that have clothing or accessories that they may have purchased that infringe on a trademark, regardless of whether they have a movie or piece of music that came from a rip!
The legislation provides for the authorities to be able to destroy the offending material without compensation. This is something that everyone should be concerned about.
The only way that inventions and innovations can truly thrive in in an environment where there is the ability to work with them and improve them. That is why “standing on the shoulders of giants” works. It is why open source is far better than proprietary. (And by open source, I don't mean free!). This is why the creative commons license is so valuable conceptually, and in reality.
Countries that have announced they are participating include: United States, European Union, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Canada.