The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a proposed plurilateral agreement that is used for the purpose of establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. The Agreement would create a body outside of international institutions such as the WTO, WIPO, and the U.N. A couple of days ago, most European Union countries formally signed the agreement.
Negotiating countries say that ACTA was designed as a response to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works. The scope of ACTA include generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) oppose ACTA and started that civil society groups and developing countries were excluded from discussion during ACTA’s development. Opponents called this “policy laundering.”
Opponents also argued that this treaty will restrict fundamental civil and digital rights including freedom of expression and communication privacy. The agreement was first created by the U.S. and Japan in 2006. Australia, Canada, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea signed on last year.
Technology companies partnered with each other in full force to prevent the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) from being signed. These two bills were stopped last week. The technology community believes that ACTA may be a threat to the free and open Internet.
After Wikileaks published a leaked discussion paper of the Agreement, numerous groups requested the text of the treaty. However the negotiation process was closed off to the public. ?ACTA has several features that raise significant potential concerns for consumers? privacy and civil liberties for innovation and the free flow of information on the Internet legitimate commerce and for developing countries? ability to choose policy options that best suit their domestic priorities and level of economic development,? stated the EFF.
ACTA would allow the government to make Internet Service Providers provide information about users that illegally host protected content. The treaty would set up an international body that could make amendments to the treaty. Neither the body or the domestic court system can review the body. People are saying ACTA is a way for copyright holders to get around the legislative process after SOPA and PIPA failed to pass.
The full ACTA Agreement can be read here.