Stop the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)

I blogged a year ago about the “Secret intellectual property treaty [that] could profoundly change life on the Internet.” At the time, the text was still secret but it was believed that the treaty: “seeks to set forth standards for enforcing cases of alleged copyright and patent infringement.” Now, as Cory Doctorow notes in How ACTA will change the world’s internet laws, the text has been leaked. This thing is bad. America and the west have long tried to extend the reach of their mercantalist IP laws — they use the WTO to twist the arms of other countries, etc. (see, e.g., my previous posts Hatch’s “International IP Piracy Priority Watch List”; IP Imperialism (Russia, Intellectual Property , and the WTO); Russian Free Trade and Patents; Bush Wants More Jailed Citizens in Russia and China; China, India like US Patent Reform).

The ACTA is also similar to another arcane law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which, under the guise of protecting “property rights,” snuck in provisions that criminalize even the mere possession of technology that can be used to circumvent digital protection systems (see, e.g., my post TI Uses Copyright Law to Attack TI Calculator Enthusiasts). Likewise, under the guise or protecting property rights in inventions and artistic works (patent and copyright), it “seeks to provide legal authority for the surveillance of Internet file transfers and searches of personal property”. As one group notes, “ACTA goes way, way beyond the TRIPS (the copyright/patent/trademark stuff in the World Trade Organization agreement), creating an entirely new realm of liability for people who provide services on the net”. More invasion of personal liberty and property rights in the name of false, artificial property rights.

So the ACTA is like a hybrid of previous efforts: it is as abusive and insidious as the DMCA, and covers patents as well as copyrights. And it will apply worldwide. This is culmination of America’s efforts use of the WTO to extend western style IP rights worldwide. As Doctorow notes, this is “a radical rewriting of the world’s Internet laws, taking place in secret, without public input. Public input? Hell, even Members of Parliament and Congressmembers don’t get a say in this. The Obama administration’s trade rep says that the US will sign onto ACTA without Congressional debate, under an administrative decree.”

For detailed comments on the ACTA, please see the following report:

James Love, Comments on ACTA Provisions on Injunctions and Damages (pdf), KEI Research Note (Knowledge Ecology International, April 6, 2010).

[cross-posted at Mises blog]