Thursday, September 16, 2010

Watered-down ACTA Approaching Conclusion

(Bridges Weekly)

Controversial multi-country negotiations on an “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” are within striking distance of conclusion, according to a leaked draft text.

The secrecy surrounding the talks took another hit this week when Knowledge Ecology International, a Washington-based non-governmental organisation, posted the draft on its website, along with a note stating that the United States was alone among participating governments in opposing the draft’s release.

While the secrecy has steadily eroded, with regularly leaked draft texts and greater support for transparency among the dozen-odd mostly industrialised countries taking part in the talks, the prospective agreement has continued to draw fire for other reasons.

Critics have charged that the terms being considered go well beyond what is necessary to target counterfeiting, and would create new intellectual property protections that surpass existing multilateral rules and upset the carefully constructed balance in the WTO’s agreement on intellectual property. They worry that if an accord entered into force, it could threaten internet freedom, access to technology, and the availability of affordable medicine in poor countries. Read more here.