International piracy plans leaked onto the internet

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A memo from businesses to government negotiators working on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been leaked on the first day of meetings..

The memo, carried on Wikileaks, proposes sweeping new powers should be enacted to stop copyright infringement, counterfeiting and piracy. They include enacting new laws to make information discovered by government customs officers available to private industry.

The memo suggests that where customs officers discover cases of infringement then they should notify the rights holder of the personal details of all of those involved.

In addition government should bring in new fines for copyright infringement and piracy that will “deter” such activity. These would be determined on information provided by the rights holders and additional powers to allow funds to be seized should be added.

The memo comes on top of proposals revealed in May that ISPs may be required to hand over user’s identities to rights holders without proof of illegal activity being offered and could require customs officers to search laptops and iPods for pirated material and restrict the use of online privacy software.

The ACTA agreement is being formulated by government officials in the US, EU, Canada, Japan and Australia but has received little attention so far. So far virtually no details of negotiations have been made public, drawing criticism from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

“In February, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) asked for public comments with a short deadline of March 22, on the proposed treaty,” said the EFF.

“Apart from the little information in the request for comments, citizens were given only a one and a half page "Fact Sheet" on ACTA, which failed to inform the public of its substance -- making the comment process a leap in the dark.”

“Given the speed with which this treaty is being negotiated, and its potentially significant impact, the lack of transparency in the negotiation process and failure to provide citizens with an opportunity for informed consultation is extremely concerning.”

At the close of the last G8 meeting in Hokkaido, Japan, the member states promised "the acceleration of negotiations to establish a new international legal framework, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and seek to complete the negotiation by the end of this year."

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