The Secretive ACTA Copyright Treaty and Why You Should Care
By Michael Geist
After years of secrecy, the eighth round of talks aimed at drafting an international treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) recently concluded in New Zealand — and in the face of public pressure, a version of the text was subsequently made available to the public. The ACTA is neither a trade agreement nor one focused primarily on counterfeiting, but a copyright deal featuring provisions on Internet service provider and Internet company liability, DMCA-style notice and takedown requirements, legal protection for digital locks, and requirements for statutory damages that could result in millions in liability for non-commercial infringement — even heightened searches at border crossings.
Ever since the ACTA partners — among them the U.S., E.U., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Morocco and Singapore — announced negotiations plans in October 2007, ACTA has been dogged by controversy over a near-total lack of transparency. Early talks were held in secret locations with each participating country offering virtually identical, cryptic press releases that did little more than fuel public concern. Now that the ACTA text is public, some might wonder whether there’s still cause for concern. Indeed, given widespread support for measures that target genuine commercial counterfeiting, some might believe it’s time to actively support ACTA.
It’s not — at least not this version.