[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[EFF Calls on Public to Intervene in Treaty Process]

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: [EFF Calls on Public to Intervene in Treaty Process]
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 20:48:41 -0600 (MDT)

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 07:48:34 -0400
From: Seth Johnson <address@hidden>
To: address@hidden
CC: address@hidden, address@hidden
Subject: EFF Calls on Public to Intervene in Treaty Process

Electronic Frontier Foundation ACTION ALERT

ALERT: Hollywood Exports Technology Ban Overseas Despite US Abuse

EFF Calls on Public to Intervene in Treaty Process

(Issued: August 16, 2001 / Deadline: August 22, 2001) 


While Russian graduate student Dmitry Sklyarov potentially faces five
years in prison under the first criminal prosecution of a controversial
new US law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed at the
request of Hollywood in 1998, its backers are now busily exporting
overseas its dangerous legal theories of excessive copyright protection
at the price of civil liberties. Worldwide public intervention is
immediately necessary to restore freedom of speech as a value promoted
by free societies. 

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) treaty process, which is
under executive power, works to establish trade agreements between 34
countries in the Western hemisphere including the US. FTAA
nation-signatories pass legislation in each of their national forums
that conforms with the treaty's principles. Currently the group is
negotiating language to include in an international treaty between the
34 countries that deals with enacting new copyright rules, among other
issues. The FTAA organization is considering treaty language that
mandates nations pass anti-circumvention provisions similar to the DMCA,
except the FTAA treaty grants even greater control to publishers than
the DMCA. 

The public must intervene to express disapproval of the FTAA's proposed
anti-circumvention measures in order to correct this trend in copyright
law. FTAA is currently accepting public feedback on the proposed treaty
language until August 22. Contact the U.S. Trade Representative (or your
country's representative) and urge the removal of the anti-circumvention
measures from incorporation into the final FTAA treaty. Already existing
theories of liability under US copyright law adequately protect the
legitimate interests of copyright holders without the need to impose
anti-technology restrictions on the entire public. Rather than adopt
even more draconian measures that ban socially beneficial technologies
in a fantasy of protecting copyrights, such as the proposed
anti-circumvention measures to FTAA attempts, foreign countries should
learn from the disastrous US experience with the DMCA. They should
wisely steer away from such over-reaching measures.

What YOU Can Do:

EFF calls upon the citizens of the 34 countries affected by this treaty,
including the US, to submit comments by August 20 (22 at the latest)
urging the group to remove the provisions from the treaty that outlaw
the act of circumvention and forbid providing tools for circumvention of
technological protection measures restricting use of copyrighted works.
These measures violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of freedom of
speech under the First Amendment, similar guarantees in other national
constitutions and laws and in the UN Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, since such tools are necessary to exercise lawful uses,
including fair use. While protecting copyright is important, passing
measures that also censor much lawful speech goes too far, without ever
achieving its objective. The next meeting of the FTAA Negotiating Group
on Intellectual Property Rights is Aug. 22 in Panama, and public
comments will be most effective if received before this date. This means
it should be mailed by Aug. 18 at the latest, in the US, and even sooner
from other countries. (Unfortunately, the FTAA site does not provide
mechanisms for Web-submitted comments.) 

Comments, to be received by the FTAA organization by August 20, should
be submitted to: 

Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee
Attn: FTAA Draft Text Release
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
1724 F. St., NW, Fifth Floor
Washington DC 20508 USA

Non-US writers should also send a copy to their own country's
intellectual property government officials; list available at: 

Sample Letter:

This is just an example. It will be most effective if you send something
similar but in your own words.

Dear Ms. Blue, Trade Policy Staff Committee, and Negotiating Group on
Intellectual Property Rights: 

I write to express my grave concern regarding the draft FTAA treaty's
extreme intellectual property provisions. 

These measures, based on the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
give far too much power to publishers, at the expense of indivdiuals'
rights. The DMCA itself is already under legal challenge in the US, has
gravely chilled scientists' and computer security researchers' freedom
of expression around the world for fear of being prosecuted in the US,
and resulted in the arrest of a Russian programmer. The FTAA provisions,
which serve no one but American corporate copyright interests, are even
more over-reaching than those of the DMCA. 

These provisions would require signatory nations to pass new DMCA-style
laws that ban, with few or no exceptions, software and other tools that
allow copy prevention technologies to be bypassed. This would violate
the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech under the First
Amendment, and similar guarantees in other national constitutions and
laws and in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, since such
tools are necessary to exercise lawful uses, including fair use, reverse
engineering, computer security research and many others. 

I urge you to remove these controversial and anti-freedom provisions
from the FTAA treaty language. The DMCA is already an international
debacle. Its flaws - and worse - should not be exported and forced on
other countries.  


[Your full name]
[Your address]

Non-US writers should mention their own country's constitution and/or
laws protecting freedom of expression, of coruse. 

Copies may also be sent by e-mail to some key people in the FTAA
 address@hidden (Kira Alvarez - Intellectual Property)
 address@hidden (Walter Bastian - E-Commerce)
Non-US contacts available at: 


Much like the DMCA, the current draft of the FTAA agreement forbids the
act of circumventing a "technological protection measure" that controls
the use of a copyrighted work. It also bans making or providing tools
that could help another to use a copyrighted work. Unlike the DMCA,
however, the language currently proposed for the FTAA treaty doesn't
include even a single exemption that would permit activities like lawful
reverse engineering, protecting privacy, fair use rights, encryption
research, and countless other reasons a person might need to override
the publisher's controls. (And the DMCA only includes a few very narrow
exemptions to the general ban on circumvention, but they have so far
proven completely useless to everyone who has attempted to rely on

Even though copyright law gives individuals rights such as fair use, the
DMCA and FTAA's proposed anti-circumvention provisions outlaw all tools
that are necessary to exercise those rights, effectively killing fair
use in the digital age. These measures ensure works are prevented from
taking their place in the public domain, denying the public what
rightfully belongs to it under the law. The guarantees of free
expression under the First Amendment, other constitutions & laws in
other countries, and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, rightly prevent publishers from having complete control over the
way in which copyrighted works can be used. But the DMCA and its
counterpart in the FTAA treaty ignore this principle and would grant
publishing companies the power to turn individual rights into "product
features" that can be disabled at the whim of the publisher. 

Since its passage, the DMCA has thus far been used to: censor a
journalist reporting on a controversial software program; attempt to
squelch the research of a Princeton professor who discovered the
vulnerabilities of the music industry's favored technology; and arrest a
foreign computer programmer for developing software that allows lawful
purchasers of electronic books to view them in ways not supported by a
competitor's viewing software. Because it wishes to consistently abuse
these powers throughout the world, rather than merely in the United
States, Hollywood and the rest of the copyright industry are now
attempting to export this legal regime throughout the world. 

It is truly ironic that the United States, once the beacon for promoting
the principles of freedom of expression, is now systematically infecting
other countries with this dangerous public policy choice that will
restrict more speech than any law before it. FTAA's anti-circumvention
provisions represent US imperialism at its worst. They seek to impose
restrictive laws on both the US and other countries, in order to prevent
established US businesses from facing both domestic and foreign
competition. These competitors would offer the public much better deals
than these businesses wish to offer, which is why the small number of
companies that control music, movie and book distribution seek to have
these competitors outlawed. The anti-circumvention provisions' terrible
effects on freedom of speech, scientific advancement, and actual
computer security, as well as on public libraries and access to
knowledge, are merely "incidental" damage, suffered by society for the
benefit of these businesses. 

To view the proposed FTAA treaty language, see: [MS-Word] 

Para mayor informaci┬Śn sobre el proceso del Acuerdo ALCA, vea: 

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties
organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in
1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to
support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information
society. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the
most linked-to Web sites in the world: 


Will Doherty, EFF Online Activist / Media Relations
+1 415 436 9333 x111 

Robin Gross, EFF Intellectual Property Attorney
+1 415 436 9333 x112

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]