A leaked draft of a section of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) shows no intention to install the type of draconian punishment for digital piracy expected by many of its critics. Rather, the Internet section of the multilateral trade agreement, a copy of which was posted at the blog of Michael Geist, closely resembles existing U.S. law.

The controversy has been a constant topic in the technology corner of the blogosphere. The New York Times even chimed in with an article that highlighted criticism of the negotiation’s secrecy and the export of U.S. anti-piracy tactics. While the process has lacked transparency, it’s par for the course for negotiating a multilateral trade agreement.

Ben Sheffner, who reviewed the leaked document at his blog, Copyrights & Campaigns, was struck by how much the draft resembles current law. The language used in sections dealing with civil remedies, limitations on liability and unauthorized circumvention of technological measures that control access to protected works (i.e. digital rights management tools) is similar to that of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Geist noted the language in the draft differs from current Canadian law dealing with notice-and-takedown measures. Indeed, ACTA could spread DMCA-like provisions to all signatories if passed. But Geist conceded that ACTA, in its leaked form, does not establish mandatory three-strikes penalties for repeat copyright infringers that has been feared by so many people.

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