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Last week’s Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations in Seoul were marred by reports of a leaked European Commission document, pertaining to the Internet Chapter of the talks, and the ensuing reactions.

On Wednesday last week, reports of the leaked EU document began doing the rounds of the blogosphere, leading to the document being quickly dissected by eager netizens and online news hubs, and all hell broke loose. Well, not quite, but almost.

As pointed out by Wired and Boing Boing in particular, the Internet Chapter of the ACTA text, drafted by the US Administration, basically states that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) think Belgacom or Voo “…have to proactively police copyright… cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability… [and] that the whole world must adopt US-style “notice-and-takedown” rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused — again, without evidence or trial — of infringing copyright.”

Ars Technica however seem to have taken a less sensationalist approach to this debacle, pointing to the fact that the document “is a written account of an oral report on a draft document that was itself still being altered.” Still, they do hit the nail on the head. The issue is not so much the content of this still very living document, rather the fact that the provisions stipulated in the document pose a serious threat, not to US consumers, but to everyone else.

In essence, the US ACTA delegation – in charge of drafting the Internet Chapter – seems to be attempting to impose US-style Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) legislation onto the rest of the world. And as Wired points out, what is perhaps even more worrying is that “the U.S. proposal goes far beyond that 1998 law, and would require Congress to alter the DMCA in a manner even more hostile to consumers.”

In the wake of this leak and the reactions to it, surely the ACTA negotiators have been given some food for thought, and the people did get to have their say about the very secret negotiations. Will we see another leak ahead of the next round of negotiations in January?

- Emil

[Curious to see the now widely circulated document? Try Wired Magazine’s blog.]

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