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[FONT=Verdana]The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), the nonprofit membership organization which represents the interests of the 50 million people who purchase and play computer and video games in the U.S. and Canada, applauds the public disclosure of the April 21, 2010 draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Since 2007, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and other countries have engaged in negotiations under ACTA, designed to reform and standardize a wide range of international intellectual property enforcement issues among signatory nations.

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Proponents of ACTA, including New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development, describe the reforms as a response[COLOR=#333333] “[/COLOR][/FONT][FONT=Verdana][URL=http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/ContentTopicSummary____34357.aspx]to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works[/URL].” [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]Over the past few years, anecdotes have been circulated in the media that ACTA is being designed to address anti-counterfeiting legislation, patent, copyright and trademark rights, as well as enforcement protocols ranging from hard goods intellectual property enforcement to Internet piracy. However, no formal commentary confirming or denying such broad changes has been made by any of the participating nations, until today.
[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]While we are excited for the proliferation of digitally-distributed products and services and appreciate that industries and governments are concerned with the protection of intellectual property, we remain concerned about the rights of consumers being diminished or marginalized in the process. That so little insight of the public, or of stakeholder groups with consumer’s interests, and with the overt and direct involvement of trade associations and corporate interests to-date, the natural balance that can and should exist was needlessly askew. Any decisions made by signatory nations[/FONT][FONT=Verdana] must not only be made with the input from the public, but also carefully balance the interests of intellectual property content owners with the rights and interests of consumers.
[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]The ECA expresses specific concern over a number of provisions in today’s draft ACTA, including but not limited to:
[*][FONT=Verdana]Deeming it illegal to bypass Digital Rights Management (DRM) locks.[/FONT]
[*][FONT=Verdana]Allowing rights holders to obtain injunctions by merely showing that infringement is "imminent," even if any crimes have not yet occurred.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]· [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]Implying, without clarification, criminal penalties against “willful copyright infringement,” as well as infringements, “that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain.”

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]The fundamental principles that benefit a strong and productive consumer and content creator relationship should be defined as follows:

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]• [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]Copyright laws should seek to protect consumers and the public interest, as well as content creators — not just the technology limiting access to content, which shifts the law in favor of the content creator. These laws should encourage a better understanding of intellectual property through educational efforts for the general public. Before making any decisions, signatory nations should undertake an unbiased review of new technologies for the purposes of understanding their functions and how they might benefit or harm consumers – not just how they may benefit industries and related interests. Such new technology may include new forms of data distribution, such as peer-to-peer networks, digital content creation, as well as devices that may potentially circumvent the copyright protection features of current technology.

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]• [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]Modifying copyright laws to modern technologies should not undermine consumer rights or constrain common consumer practices that have been enshrined in signatory nations for many years. Selecting narrow, specific provisions that define a particular type of copyright or trademark infringement is one particular method that will defend and laud not only content owners’ rights, but also protect consumers from egregious blanket policies.

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]• [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]While signatory nations should be encouraged to further define penalties for copyright and trademark violations so that the courts will have a common, shared threshold of consequences for violations, the public must have a say in how such laws are formed so that common standards for intellectual property enforcement are adhered to.

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Consumers shall not accept a series of laws that place the rights and interests of big business ahead of those of individuals, especially new legislation that would harm our established civil liberties and privacy rights.

[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]- Jennifer Mercurio, ECA Vice President and General Counsel

[U]Media contact[/U][/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]: Jason Andersen
[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Director of Public Relations
[/FONT] [URL=http://www.theeca.com/feed_back][FONT=Verdana]jason@theeca.com[/FONT][/URL]

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