This has been flying under the radar unless you’re like me and you follow uber-geek podcasts like I do. However, the US government has been quietly pressuring our friends and allies to sign on to a lil treaty called ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This is the wonderful little piece of borderline-fascist policy that allows customs officials to go through your property, laptop, iPod, flash-drive, cell phone, CDs, DVDs, cameras. . . Looking for. . . wait for it. . . pirated movies and music. Yeah. Ok. That’s what we care about. Bootleg Metallica and unauthorized copies of Roadhouse. This is so over the line that the EFF actually has to file a lawsuit against Office of the US Trade Representative in order to actually see what the treaty actually says. According to reports:
Wow. Just Wow. Do we want ICE working for the RIAA? Should the MPAA be seizing laptops at the border because someone backed up a DVD of Spaceballs? Is this a good idea? Worse, even though the treaty hasn’t been finalized yet, the stupidity is already beginning. (Thanks to Weird Universe.) We have a situation where according to the Press Republican:
Jerilea Zempel was detained at the U.S. border this summer because she had a drawing of a sport-utility vehicle in her sketchbook.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told Zempel they suspected her of copyright infringement.
You read right. A sketchbook. A drawing of an SUV. Customs saw this and suspected copyright infringement.
Let me repeat that: They looked at a sketch someone drew of a car and decided that it might be a violation of copyright. A drawing. A car. Are these nimrods fucking kidding me? These are the people who are going to make legal determinations of the provanance of the tracks on my iPod? Are we to expect the idiots who couldn’t understand that a DRAWING of a CAR is a transformative work whose copyright is probably owned BY THE PERSON WHO DREW IT are actually going to understand the idea of DRM-free music or a video podcast?