Via the observant eye of Kristof Neefs (Laga) and the diligent pen of William Patry comes an item from Wikileaks concerning the leaked memorandum regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA: see Wikipedia entry here) ,a proposed new IP enforcement treaty and a subject that has so far received little attention from the IPKat (see just one earlier post, here) or, it seems, most other people.
Right: once a nuisance, leaks are increasingly becoming an essential way of finding out what's going on
According to Wikileaks:
"A “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” was reportedly provided to select lobbyists in the intellectual property industry, but not to public interest organizations concerned with the subject matter of the proposed treaty.According to IP Justice, which Wikileaks cites:
Wikileaks has obtained the document.
The agreement covers the copying of information or ideas in a wide variety of contexts. For example page three, paragraph one is a "Pirate Bay killer" clause designed to criminalize the non-profit facilitation of unauthorized information exchange on the internet. This clause would also negatively affect transparency and primary source journalism sites such as Wikileaks.
The document reveals a proposal for a multi-lateral trade agreement of strict enforcement of intellectual property rights related to Internet activity and trade in information-based goods hiding behind the issue of false trademarks. If adopted, a treaty of this form would impose a strong, top-down enforcement regime, with new cooperation requirements upon internet service providers, including perfunctionary disclosure of customer information. The proposal also bans "anti-circumvention" measures which may affect online anonymity systems and would likely outlaw multi-region CD/DVD players.
The proposal also specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime.
Trade representatives were hoping to formalize the agreement at the G-8 summit in July 2008".
"After the multi-lateral treaty’s scope and priorities are negotiated by the few countries invited to participate in the early discussions, ACTA’s text will be “locked” and other countries who are later “invited” to sign-on to the pact will not be able to re-negotiate its terms. It is claimed that signing-on to the trade agreement will be "voluntary", but few countries will have the muscle to refuse an “invitation” to join, once the rules have been set by the select few conducting the negotiations.The IPKat is very anxious about all of this -- not because he is in favour of counterfeiting (which he emphatically is not) but because it seems to him that there is an unhealthy lack of debate both as to substance and as to strategy. A Google search of the term "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" gave just 60,500 hits worldwide -- the number of UK hits being a paltry 482. This suggests that little thought and information is being publicly aired concerning this proposal. Merpel is also anxious, because she wants to be assured that, in killing the cancer of counterfeiting, the poor patient will not be killed or maimed in the process.
The US is negotiating ACTA through the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), an office within the Bush Administration that has concluded more than 10 “free trade” agreements in recent years, all of which require both the US and the other country to increase intellectual property rights enforcement measures beyond the international legal norms in the WTO-TRIPS Agreement".
Mrs Plug the Plumber here