ACTA – copyright daftness

Collected quotes regarding the “The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (ACTA).


Why Is ACTA Being Negotiated In Secret?
A discussion paper on “The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (ACTA) has been posted over at WikiLeaks. Negotiations on the terms of the ACTA are being done behind closed doors, far from the prying eyes of the public and public interest groups – democracy trade representatives at work.

In 2007 a select handful of the wealthiest countries began a treaty-making process to create a new global standard for intellectual property rights enforcement, which was called, in a piece of brilliant marketing, the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (the agreement does not cover currency fraud).
ACTA is spearheaded by the United States along with the European Commission, Japan, and Switzerland — which have large intellectual property industries. Other countries invited to participate in ACTA’s negotiation process are Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand. Noticeably absent from ACTA’s negotiations are leaders from developing countries who hold national policy priorities that differ from the international intellectual property industry. [1]

It is also chilling to hear … that ACTA negotiants have reportedly signed non-disclosure agreements as a condition of their participation in this week’s secret closed-door meeting in Geneva …

Michael Geist, Canada research chair of Internet and E-commerce law at the University of Ottawa and expert on Canadian copyright law, blasted the government for advancing ACTA with little public consultation. Mr. Geist said documents detailing ACTA’s plans would not need to be leaked online if the process was open and transparent.
“That’s what happens when you conduct all of this behind closed doors,” he said. “The lack of consultation, the secrecy behind it and the speculation that this will be concluded within a matter of months without any real public input is deeply troubling.” [2]

The document is reported to be drafted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) through which the US is negotiating the agreement.

ACTA illustrates the negative effect of making intellectual property a trade issue. GATT/TRIPS is the most visible example, but it is far from the only one. TRIPs illustrates an important systemic point: the power shift away from those who traditionally made copyright policy, and to those who make trade policy. In the United States, the latter category means the United States Trade Representative. — William Patry [7]

The US (surprise, surprise) has circulated a draft “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (ACTA) for the next G8 meeting, in Tokyo in July. The full text of the document has been published on Wikileaks (wikileaks.org).
The ACTA draft is a scary document. If a treaty based on its provisions were adopted, it would enable any border guard, in any treaty country, to check any electronic device for any content that they suspect infringes copyright laws. They need no proof, only suspicion.
They would be able to seize any device – laptop, iPod, DVD recorder, mobile phone, etc – and confiscate it or destroy anything on it, merely on suspicion. On the spot, no lawyers, no right of appeal, no nothing. [3]

To date, disturbingly little information has been released about the actual content of the agreement However, despite that, it is clearly on a fast track; treaty proponents want it tabled at the G8 summit in July, and completed by the end of 2008. [4]

The most that can be hoped of the proposed ACTA treaty is that, if it comes into being, it will further expose the futility of legislating against the key advantage of digital technology – the ease with which content can be stored, copied and transmitted. Where the technology is liberating people and content, the powers of reaction are attempting to stifle it.
Fortunately they are on the wrong side of history. When the full details and consequences of this treaty become widely known, I believe the effect will be the opposite of what its authors intend. It contains so little understanding of the way the digital world works that the backlash against it will be massive, accelerating the inevitable death of the out-of-date business models it is vainly trying to protect. [3]

[1] Proposed US ACTA multi-lateral intellectual property trade agreement (2007) [Wikileaks]
[2] ACTA trade agreement negotiation lacks transparency (2008-May-25) Vito Pilieci [Wikileaks]
[3] Digital copyright: it’s all wrong (2008-Jun-10) Graeme Philipson [The Age]
[4] Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement [EFF]
[5] ACTA [IP Justice]
[6] Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement [Wikipedia]
[7] An ACTA Call to Arms: No More Secret Government (2008-Jun-03) William Patry [The Patry Copyright Blog]
[8] A ‘secret’ copyright treaty (2008-Jun-05) [Peter Gallagher]

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