Internet service providers (ISPs) are warning that secret trade negotiations could weaken their protections against being sued for online copyright theft.
The anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (Acta) is intended to help governments fight counterfeiting and copyright piracy more effectively. The deal is being negotiated in secret between the US, the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland.
Acta wants to use provisions in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to weaken ISPs' position as "mere conduits" or carriers of content, similar to the Post Office or BT. This means ISPs could be sued by copyright holders if pirated content is available via their networks.
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