Confusion Over ACTA Provisions Leads to Misinformation

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INTERACTIONS

Earlier this year, an IVN contributor reported that while the stated purpose of the ACTA treaty is to curtail international piracy of copyrighted material, in practice, it would be used to curtail speech, expression, and even Internet access. Furthermore, the article stated that, “for those that care about Internet freedom this news [that the European Union rejected the treaty] is a ray of sunshine.”

Gathering factual information about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement over the Internet, however, is a difficult task. Rather, much of the related content online is editorial commentary suggesting that freedom and liberties are at stake, but rarely do any of the commentators substantiate these concerns.

ACTA is a trade treaty. In order to be binding it needs to be implemented into the national law of each undersigning country; it is not self-executing. Accordingly, Section 1, Article 2 reads, “[E]ach party shall be free to determine the appropriate method of implementing the provisions of this Agreement within its own legal system and practice.”

A treaty, in general, has to accommodate many needs in the sense that it has to be compatible with the laws of the undersigning countries.

In short, to implement ACTA provisions, a country has to legislate in a manner that is congruent with its national laws. In the context of European law, a directive would have to be enacted and, in accordance with that directive, member states would implement the policy into their own laws.

Many provisions of ACTA resemble those of TRIPS, a European directive from 2004, and the KORUS Agreement. In other words, most European countries are already subject to rules and regulations proposed by that directive.

For example, the definition of intellectual property in ACTA resembles Part II of the TRIPS Agreement regarding copyrights, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents, layout-design/integrated circuits, and protection of undisclosed information. An individual’s idea or expression is not subject to the agreement.

Specifically pertinent to Internet issues is Section 5, Article 27. This section proposes civil and criminal enforcement procedures against infringement and copyright protection. Furthermore, this provision must be read together with its footnote, which suggests remedies against service providers. These suggestion, if implemented, could allow providers to monitor contents. However, the enforcement mechanisms described in Article 27 are not mandatory under ACTA. In fact, the footnote begins, “For instance, without prejudice to a Party’s law,” indicating that it merely is an example, not a mandate.

All things considered, ACTA is not dead, nor is it alive. It merely reflects the current legal position and a road-map for future legislation. However, a criticism of ACTA is valid if it is considered in its full context. Why China is not one of the participating countries, for example, is a valid question and should be critically considered. On the other hand, while the ambitions behind the treaty are questionable, Internet groups that raise unsubstantiated hysteria should not be at the forefront of the discussion.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Brandon Fallon When discussing internet censorship, the greater the evidence that the First Amendment is truly an intrinsic right for all humans, not just Americans.
  2. Sarah Moore I could be wrong but it looks like Jeff's comment is an excerpt from an article. A citation of your source of this 'information' along with an explanation of what it means would be helpful. One thing I notice is that your comment uses language like 'ensnare' and 'cruel,' hallmarks of biased information, not to mention characterization of tax policy as 'Taxmageddon.' Inflammatory language and the lack of context or a reference to sources makes me skeptical. I look for facts and reference to their sources as an indicator that the information I'm reading can stand on it's own and inflammatory language as a sure tip that what I'm reading is coming from someone who has an agenda other than sharing the whole truth or worse, is being dishonest and divisive.
  3. Chad Peace Right on.
  4. Justintime Its pretty obvious who the tax increases in Jeffs comment, are going to include, EVERYONE (except large companies of course), judging by which taxes they are, and all of this can be found in the bills on the Thomas website. Instead of bashing for him for being biased (everyone is, regardless of whether you admit it or not), and using a few shiny words, how about you look at what hes actually saying Jeffandwanda and Sarah... Or would that be too difficult? Its not very hard to look at what he is saying about tax increases, and use that thing called Google to find the bills that raise these taxes. You would rather throw red herrings about the language he used though, to divert people's attention from the fact that even if they are under poverty line, they will pay increased taxes due to Obama and the bills passed in the first 2 years of his administration. But hey... its change right? More change, gotta change constantly, even if its for the worse! What a bunch of braindeads. And really... youre helpless and sad if you cant read his whole post and clearly see its talking about AMT, death/estate tax and income. Lowered the estate tax to 1 mil? Hope your parents live in a cardboard box, because if they die while this administration is making laws like this, you will be forced to sell their home just to pay the taxes on it. Taxes your parents ALREADY PAID when they bought it. Talk about double taxation. How about tax to own things every year that you already bought? Welcome to the new America, where youre taxed for everything, multiple times, so that people who sit on their asses with no reading comprehension and no drive to better themselves, can sit on EBT and unemployment for the rest of their lives (like the 2 posters above, too inept to read and understand absurd laws their dictator Obama pushes down our throats). I guess if you want to be a sheeple slave, enjoy!
  5. JeffandWanda Camp Jeff, you do realize the majority of people won't have a clue what you're talking about, right? If you're going to go to the trouble of posting all this, then the least you can do is put in simple language and explain what it means and whose going to be affected by it. As it is it just looks like another Obamacare bashing. You could also point out who is responsible for the tax cuts not being "re-upped" or extended. You and I may know that AMT that AMT means Alternative Minimum Tax, but most people won't, and they won't know what that means to them. A little knowledge is worse than none at all. You have sufficiently scared the crap out of 95% of the people who read your comment. Now explain what all that REALLY means and how and whom it's going to affect.
  6. Jeff Delancey Sunday will mark the start of the 100-day countdown to “Taxmageddon” –the date the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2013: First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for small business owners, families, and investors (later re-upped by President Obama and Democrat Congress in 2010). The following tax hikes will occur on January 1, 2013: Personal income tax rates will rise on January 1, 2013. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which the majority of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The full list of marginal rate hikes is below: -The 10% bracket rises to a new and expanded 15% -The 25% bracket rises to 28% -The 28% bracket rises to 31% -The 33% bracket rises to 36% -The 35% bracket rises to 39.6% Higher taxes on marriage and family coming on January 1, 2013. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of taxable income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. Middle Class Death Tax returns on January 1, 2013. The death tax is currently 35% with an exemption of $5 million ($10 million for married couples). For those dying on or after January 1 2013, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones. Higher tax rates on savers and investors on January 1, 2013. The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 23.8 percent in 2013. The top dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 43.4 percent in 2013. This is because of scheduled rate hikes plus Obamacare’s investment surtax. Second Wave: Obamacare Tax Hikes There are twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Some have already gone into effect (the tanning tax, the medicine cabinet tax, the HSA withdrawal tax, W-2 health insurance reporting, and the “economic substance doctrine”). Several more will go into effect on January 1, 2013. They include: The Obamacare Medical Device Tax begins to be assessed on January 1, 2013. Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. Exempts items retailing for <$100. The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike takes effect on January 1, 2013. The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits. Starting in 2013, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate. The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” comes online on January 1, 2013. Imposes a cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited). Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare cap harms these families. The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions goes into force on January 1, 2013. Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only. Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2013, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired. These tax increases will be in force for BOTH 2012 and 2013. The major items include: The AMT will ensnare over 31 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families —rising from 4 million last year to 31 million. These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level. The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.
  7. Brandon Fallon I fail to see how the comments on the fiscal cliff(s)/Taxmageddon have anything to do with ACTA, but while you brought it up, I have a very strong hunch that many, if not all, of those tax hikes will actually come into effect. Also, feel free to check out where this link leads you, because you didn't give a link to where you got your statement from. http://mediamattersaction.org/emailchecker/201008300007 Taxes are a loaded topic. Tax cuts helped the economy under Reagan and tax increases helped spur the economy under Clinton. Yes, it is the usual Democrat versus Republican point of view and clashing talking points, but the point is that there are some things that are common sense and that both sides should agree to.
  8. Chad Peace Mareike ... thanks for the tempored approach .. and not bad to learn how treaties work! Too often is a "keep the internet open" or "hand it over to the government" debate ... thanks for showing the large gray area in between.
8 comments
Brandon Fallon
Brandon Fallon

When discussing internet censorship, the greater the evidence that the First Amendment is truly an intrinsic right for all humans, not just Americans.

Sarah Moore
Sarah Moore

I could be wrong but it looks like Jeff's comment is an excerpt from an article. A citation of your source of this 'information' along with an explanation of what it means would be helpful. One thing I notice is that your comment uses language like 'ensnare' and 'cruel,' hallmarks of biased information, not to mention characterization of tax policy as 'Taxmageddon.' Inflammatory language and the lack of context or a reference to sources makes me skeptical. I look for facts and reference to their sources as an indicator that the information I'm reading can stand on it's own and inflammatory language as a sure tip that what I'm reading is coming from someone who has an agenda other than sharing the whole truth or worse, is being dishonest and divisive.

Justintime
Justintime

Its pretty obvious who the tax increases in Jeffs comment, are going to include, EVERYONE (except large companies of course), judging by which taxes they are, and all of this can be found in the bills on the Thomas website. Instead of bashing for him for being biased (everyone is, regardless of whether you admit it or not), and using a few shiny words, how about you look at what hes actually saying Jeffandwanda and Sarah... Or would that be too difficult? Its not very hard to look at what he is saying about tax increases, and use that thing called Google to find the bills that raise these taxes. You would rather throw red herrings about the language he used though, to divert people's attention from the fact that even if they are under poverty line, they will pay increased taxes due to Obama and the bills passed in the first 2 years of his administration. But hey... its change right? More change, gotta change constantly, even if its for the worse! What a bunch of braindeads.

And really... youre helpless and sad if you cant read his whole post and clearly see its talking about AMT, death/estate tax and income. Lowered the estate tax to 1 mil? Hope your parents live in a cardboard box, because if they die while this administration is making laws like this, you will be forced to sell their home just to pay the taxes on it. Taxes your parents ALREADY PAID when they bought it. Talk about double taxation. How about tax to own things every year that you already bought? Welcome to the new America, where youre taxed for everything, multiple times, so that people who sit on their asses with no reading comprehension and no drive to better themselves, can sit on EBT and unemployment for the rest of their lives (like the 2 posters above, too inept to read and understand absurd laws their dictator Obama pushes down our throats). I guess if you want to be a sheeple slave, enjoy!

JeffandWanda Camp
JeffandWanda Camp

Jeff, you do realize the majority of people won't have a clue what you're talking about, right? If you're going to go to the trouble of posting all this, then the least you can do is put in simple language and explain what it means and whose going to be affected by it.

As it is it just looks like another Obamacare bashing.

You could also point out who is responsible for the tax cuts not being "re-upped" or extended. You and I may know that AMT that AMT means Alternative Minimum Tax, but most people won't, and they won't know what that means to them. A little knowledge is worse than none at all. You have sufficiently scared the crap out of 95% of the people who read your comment. Now explain what all that REALLY means and how and whom it's going to affect.

Jeff Delancey
Jeff Delancey

Sunday will mark the start of the 100-day countdown to “Taxmageddon” –the date the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2013:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for small business owners, families, and investors (later re-upped by President Obama and Democrat Congress in 2010). The following tax hikes will occur on January 1, 2013:

Personal income tax rates will rise on January 1, 2013. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which the majority of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

-The 10% bracket rises to a new and expanded 15%

-The 25% bracket rises to 28%

-The 28% bracket rises to 31%

-The 33% bracket rises to 36%

-The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family coming on January 1, 2013. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of taxable income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.

Middle Class Death Tax returns on January 1, 2013. The death tax is currently 35% with an exemption of $5 million ($10 million for married couples). For those dying on or after January 1 2013, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors on January 1, 2013. The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 23.8 percent in 2013. The top dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 43.4 percent in 2013. This is because of scheduled rate hikes plus Obamacare’s investment surtax.

Second Wave: Obamacare Tax Hikes

There are twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Some have already gone into effect (the tanning tax, the medicine cabinet tax, the HSA withdrawal tax, W-2 health insurance reporting, and the “economic substance doctrine”). Several more will go into effect on January 1, 2013. They include:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax begins to be assessed on January 1, 2013. Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. Exempts items retailing for <$100.

The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike takes effect on January 1, 2013. The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits. Starting in 2013, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate.

The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” comes online on January 1, 2013. Imposes a cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited). Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare cap harms these families.

The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions goes into force on January 1, 2013. Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2013, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired. These tax increases will be in force for BOTH 2012 and 2013. The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 31 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families —rising from 4 million last year to 31 million. These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level. The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

Mareike ... thanks for the tempored approach .. and not bad to learn how treaties work!

Too often is a "keep the internet open" or "hand it over to the government" debate ... thanks for showing the large gray area in between.

Brandon Fallon
Brandon Fallon

I fail to see how the comments on the fiscal cliff(s)/Taxmageddon have anything to do with ACTA, but while you brought it up, I have a very strong hunch that many, if not all, of those tax hikes will actually come into effect. Also, feel free to check out where this link leads you, because you didn't give a link to where you got your statement from.

http://mediamattersaction.org/emailchecker/201008300007

Taxes are a loaded topic. Tax cuts helped the economy under Reagan and tax increases helped spur the economy under Clinton. Yes, it is the usual Democrat versus Republican point of view and clashing talking points, but the point is that there are some things that are common sense and that both sides should agree to.