1) Are you a pirate? Do you pay for music, movies, operating systems, and textbooks? 2) Have you ever had an idea stolen? Do you own any intellectual property? 3) Is illegally downloading something the same as stealing it?
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (February 11, 2012)
In January 2012, the American public and media succeeded in squashing two bills, SOPA & PIPA, which proposed to block access to Internet content that infringed copyright. The media frenzy and public outcry over SOPA & PIPA overshadowed the progress of a larger agreement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is now in the spotlight.
Broadly speaking, ACTA resembles SOPA but expands on patents, counterfeit goods, and intellectual property rights. It calls for international standards to enforce property rights, criminal punishment for rights infringement or piracy, and the creation of a new international governing body for its purposes. Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and the US have signed the agreement. Twenty-two E.U. states have signed, while others, including Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany, have refused.
Initially, much contention surrounded an ACTA rule to permit checks at international borders and airports for copyrighted digital material. People feared this would allow guards to randomly check and confiscate laptops and iPods that contained illegal content. ACTA officials have recently caved to public pressure and agreed to change the agreement. The new watered-down rules have an exception that allows countries to opt out on checking personal baggage.
ACTA also proposed to hold Internet service providers partly responsible for their customers’ online content. Widespread criticism of this requirement has also led to its alteration, leaving it in the hands of countries to do as much or little as they want with individual pirates.
ACTA’s creators have been accused of “policy laundering”; i.e. secretly pushing the act through closed doors without proper public scrutiny. Although ACTA negotiations began in October 2007, the public only found out about it through leaked documents. ACTA’s official press release was actually done in an Agriculture and Fisheries Meeting report.
Anti-ACTA protests are being held across Europe. Hacker groups are targeting government websites that support the bill. ACTA will only go into effect once 5 countries have ratified and implemented it, which may take until 2013. Time will tell if it can survive until then.
3 – They might have worried that the items in their baggage, such as laptops and iPods, would be subject to searches.
4 – Not necessarily. It is up to the individual countries to decide how to persecute individual pirates.
5 – They face this accusation because they have been trying to push the agreement through behind closed doors; e.g. without the public’s scrutiny.
6 – Maybe never. It will require five countries to ratify and implement it before it comes into affect.
7 – …
ACTA ESL Lesson Plan: Vocabulary Matching
Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
cave (in) (verb)
opt out (verb)
bill – a written suggestion for a new law
infringe – violate; break; overstep
frenzy – period of intense activity and strong emotion
outcry – a strong reaction of anger by the public
overshadow – make sth/sb seem less significant
counterfeit – fake
contention – angry disagreement between people
cave (in) – finally do what sb wants after strongly opposing him/her
watered-down – reduced in strength or effectiveness
opt out – choose not to take part in sth
laundering – hiding the source of illegally-obtained money
scrutiny – careful and thorough examination
ratify – make an agreement valid by voting for or signing it
ACTA ESL Lesson Plan: Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.
government / uprising
bill / infringe / copyright
frenzy / overshadow
outcry / cave
counterfeit / DVDs
contention / arrest
watered-down / agreement
opt out / rule
mafia / laundering
public / scrutiny
China / ratify
ACTA ESL Lesson Plan: Role-Play #1 (Pair Work)
Student A: You have just got a job as a scientist for ABC Pharmaceutical, a company that holds the patent for the world’s best HIV medication. You are excited and proud of the company you work for. Your friend, Student B, has just returned from Africa. Tell him/her about your new job and ask how his/her trip was.
Student B: You have just returned from Africa. You witnessed much suffering because people do not have access to expensive patented drugs. Thankfully, some cheaper ‘generic’ drugs are available, which would in fact become illegal if ACTA passes. You are against ACTA and greedy pharmaceutical companies. Think of reasons to support your argument. Student A will start the conversation.
ACTA ESL Lesson Plan: Role-Play #2 (Pair Work)
Student A: You are a member of the rock group Metallica. You are in a taxicab, and the driver puts on some music (using his ipod). To your surprise, you hear a new song from your band’s upcoming album that hasn’t even been released yet. You are angry. Ask the driver about the song. If you want, try to take the ipod.
Student B: You are a taxi driver. You pick up Student A, a stranger. He looks like he likes rock music and heavy metal, so you put on a new song by your favorite band, Metallica.
ACTA ESL Lesson Plan: Patents
Companies such as Pfizer lose huge amounts of money when patents on drugs expire. When this happens, generic drug companies can enter the market and make profit.
Questions: 1) Is this fair? 2) Should patents expire? 3) Should patents on life-saving drugs be bypassed, in some cases, for the benefit of humanity?
ACTA ESL Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions
1) What is your country’s position on ACTA?
2) Mass guilt: if everyone does something bad, does that make it right?
3) Regulation: is the Internet out of control?
4) Hacktivism: are hacker groups, like Anonymous, heroes? Do you support them?
5) Do you think ACTA would create an environment of surveillance and suspicion?
6) Can online piracy ever be stopped?
ACTA ESL Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com
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