US Supports RIAA, Violates WIPO
It was quite a surprise that John Ashcroft's Justice
Department would side with the RIAA in its legal fight to
have Verizon hand personal account information of suspected
file sharers. Mr. Ashcroft has usually found himself at odds
with privacy advocates, while remembering the rebukes from
Congress for not doing enough to enforce existing laws like
the NET Act.
So it was with some surprised that I read in CNET that the
US government would promote software to circumvent
security measures implemented by the Chinese Government to
block 'undesired' content. The article reports that the
software "digs a tunnel under a firewall set up by a
government, corporation, school or other organization" while
creating "anonymity by covering the Web surfer's tracks."
While it's not obvious how they are to get the software in
the hands of Chinese surfers ('the chicken-and-egg
conundrum'), the move raises some fowl issues. Let alone
that the US government is promoting technology that could be
used to share illegal music & movie files over corporate and
academic network or outwit content filters used to protect
libraries from smut, the policy is in clear violation of
America's obligations under World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO) treaties.
Specifically, Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT)
"Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection
and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of
effective technological measures that are used by authors in
connection with the exercise of their rights under this
Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts, in
respect of their works, which are not authorized by the
authors concerned or permitted by law."
As such, DMCA includes civil and criminal liability for the
circumvention of copyright protection technologies.
Certainly one could argue that Chinese blocking is not meant
to protect the author, to the contrary depriving them of
potential revenue. But from a legal point of view, this is
irrelevant - the Chinese government is simply using
perfectly legal tools to enforce its own national laws. How
can the US government promote circumvention of legal
blocking technology, and in the process Chinese law, when it
is mandating the use of content filtering and site blocking
in US public libraries. Nor should it be forgotten that the
US companies providing the Chinese government with the
blocking technology,like Microsoft and Sun, have also
vigorously fought, with the support of the DoJ and courts, any
attempts to circumvent their own technology, even in the
cases of academic research.
How ironic it would be if Chinese nationals used
circumvention technology promoted/provided by the US
government to illicitly download/swap music and films
presently being purposely or innocently blocked.
- Software Rams Great Firewall of China
Related News from Mi2N:
» Justice Department Supports RIAA In Verizon Case