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Mauro Bieg [opinions]

Stop the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

fsmsh.com/2960 [ip] [acta]

I just heard about the proposed ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) over at Free Software Daily and from the Free Software Foundation. Right now the governments of the United States, the European Commission, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico are secretly negotiating this new treaty which aims to increase the enforcement of intellectual property laws yet again.

From Wikipedia:

The proposed agreement would allow border officials to search laptops, MP3 players, and cellular phones for copyright-infringing content. It would also impose new cooperation requirements upon Internet service providers (ISPs), including perfunctory disclosure of customer information, and restrict the use of online privacy tools.

Quite obviously the negotiations on the treaty are behind closed doors, so the governments can finish the deal without any protest or interference from their own people. Once the trade agreement is signed they can claim (truthfully) that they are obligated by international law to ratify the treaty and sign it into national law.

From the Wikipedia article:

The ACTA proposal specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime, as well.

This means that the last step will be to push the whole thing through the WTO (World Trade Organization) and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). This won't be difficult at all, considering that all major developed countries, including the USA and the EU, will have agreed to push a WTO-treaty that will be largely the same as the ACTA, the treaty now being negotiated plurilaterally and outside of the WTO. This way developing nations will be locked out of the process but will still have to follow the WTO rules.

The only way to stop this whole thing is to prevent the treaty from being finalized and signed in the first place. So join the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and send and e-mail to your senator, or if you don't live in the US, try to make some stir about it in your own country. Let's hope our governments don't get away with it!

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