Please Remove All Guns, Knives...and Illegal MP3's?

A new proposal by the G8 to undermine international piracy is causing concern among some that its provisions may end up being used more frequently to ferret out filesharers than to round up dangerous bands of international smugglers.

Though very little is known about the proposal as yet, a few leaks have surfaced with enough information to raise the suspicions — and dander — of activists. Leaks that turned up on the internet paint the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, as the proposal is known, as a pact to strengthen borders against "large-scale intellectual property infringements" particularly those involving "criminal elements." However, the fine print revealed that the provisions might go farther than "large-scale" incidents, saying that member-nations should include "provisions related to criminal enforcement and border measures to be applied at least in cases of trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy," which some have speculated could include actions against individuals, including file-sharers.

The G8's Declaration on the World Economy — published this week — included this line, which observers have interpreted in a variety of ways: "Effective promotion and protection of Intellectual Property Rights are critical to the development of creative products, technologies and economies." Though we'll wait for a bit more info to make any predictions about the agreement's effects, we do have a thought about protecting IP and innovation: Oh really, now?

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