MANY COUNTRIES REDUCING SOFTWARE PIRACY, STUDY SAYS, BUT PROBLEM REMAINS WORST IN FAST-GROWING ECONOMIES
You're returning to the U.S. from a quick trip to Canada. A customs official says he wants to examine your laptop. You boot it for him and he finds (gasp!) a bootlegged copy of Allen Toussaint's new CD. "Sorry, sir, we'll have to hold on to that."
Just like that, your MacBook is the property of the U.S. government and you're out $1,600. Or maybe it becomes known that you've shared music or an old version of WordPerfect online. Good-bye Internet account.
That couldn't happen today. But Hollywood and the software industry are in a lather about piracy, so they're pushing a draconian, international agreement that could make those ugly scenarios an everyday occurrence.
[ InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely has choice words on current antipiracy measures in his blog post, "The wrong arm of the law" | Keep up on the day's tech news headlines with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter and InfoWorld Daily podcast. ]
Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the new plan would see the United States, Canada, members of the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, and Switzerland form an international coalition against copyright infringement. What's making groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation especially nervous is the veil of secrecy around the negotiations. In fact, it took some well-placed leaks and a Freedom of Information Act request to find out the most basic details of the plan. (Anything to do with regulation by the EU makes me nervous as well. Remember the crackdown on ugly vegetables?)
A year ago, Wikileaks obtained and posted a copy of an internal discussion paper that laid out some of the avenues the international bureaucrats were pursing. Check it out -- and be sure to note the section about border controls and the seizure and destruction of property.