In a draft act the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) has introduced a new and dangerous possibility to the already risky world of peer-to-peer file sharing.

The outrageous proposal, which, if it were cleared in the United States would allow for any company to impose instant jail terms for convicted file swappers.

While the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is the basis of current US copyright law, already allows for a jail sentence this is only in extreme cases, and is still a government legislation. However. The Second Draft Agreement (http://www.ftaa-alca.org/ftaadraft02/eng/ngipe_1.asp#III Art.4) claims that the FTAA could act ex officio, without the need for a formal complaint by a private party or right holder - meaning that RIAA or any other organisation could become pseudo-police.

They would have the ability to simply fine p2p users or worse without any consultation with government authorities, or any prior warning to the user.

Although there is not exact link to jail sentences, the act requires defendants to adhere to another act, the GATT/TRIPS Agreement (http://www wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_01_e.htm) - 4.1. Each Party Shall apply Article 61 of the TRIPS Agreement. This link, put across by Robin D. Gross, in his white paper "FTAA: A Threat to Freedom and Free Trade" (http://www.ipjustice.org/FTAA/IPJ_FTAA_White_Paper_r_1_2.html) proves that through this indirect link there is a possibility of jail terms.