Friday, November 13, 2009


This is a presentation from Michael Geist published on his website and BoingBoing yesterday. Here Geist outlines the history and current state of negotiations on the ACTA Treaty.

The treaty was initiated by the USA in 2004 as a response to counterfit copyright products with a focus on the importation and cross border movement of pirated goods. Negotiations moved forward in 2006 with Australia joining the process in 2007. Since this time the scope of the Treaty has expanded dramatically. Furthermore serious concerns have emerged with respect to how this process undermines WIPO, has been conducted behind closed doors without sufficient transparency and consultation, and the potential need for dramatic changes to domestic copyright regimes in many countries. Some have suggested that this is in effect corporate interests dictating international copyright policy and the globalisation of protectionist copyright standards in order to protect economic interests.

Specific areas of focus for this treaty include border measures to reduce illegal imports, the internet, as well as the enforcement of intellectual property rights through civil and criminal penalties. The treaty relates to commercial infringement and significant wilful non-commercial infringement (ie. is not dependent on financial gain).

Aside from the substantive issues with respect to the content of the treaty the most significant concern is how the negotiations have been conducted. A number of countries including Canada and the EU have sought greater transparency with those outside of the content industry (including academics and the public) being deliberatly excluded from the consultation process. In the United States the Electronic Frontier Foundation made an application for disclosure of docuemtns relating to the treaty under their Freedom of Information laws however access was denied on the basis that it would be contray to national security. At this stage it is anticiapted that the treaty will be publically available in its finalised form in 2011.

While it is being negotiated in secret there are little opportunities to challenge its substantive content. What should be taking place on a global, domestic and local level is grass roots action against the lack of disclosure and consulation. If there are likeminded people around the globe that care about the direction this treaty appears to be heading, hopefully they are able to mobilse locally and then coordinate with others to bring this to the attention of the citizens and law makers of their countries. I am on my way now to check for the Anti ACTA Facebook page...

Further Reading
Michael Geist, The ACTA Threat: My Talk on Everything You Need To Know About ACTA, But Didn't Know To Ask (12 November 2009) <> at 13 November 2009

BoingBoing, Everything you want to know about the scary, secret copyright treaty (12 November 2009) <> at 13 November 2009

Michael Geist, ACTA Posts <> at 13 November 2009

WikiLeaks, ACTA <> at 13 November 209

EFF, Anti Counterfitting Trade Agreement <> at 13 November 2009

EFF, Government Blocks Release of Documents on Secret IP Enforcement Treaty (29 January 2009) <> at 13 November 2009

National Business Review, NZ should not sign international piracy agreement (9 November 2009) <> at 12 November 2009

TechDirt, More ACTA Details Leak: It's An Entertainment Industry Wishlist (3 November 2009) <> at 9 November 2009

ZeroPaid, Anti-Piracy Treaty: Global DMCA, “Three-Strikes” (6 November 2009) <> at 8 November 2009

ArsTechnica, Secret ACTA treaty can't be shown to public, just 42 lawyers (15 October 2009) <> at 29 October 2009

TechDirt, ACTA Negotiations Back On... White House Shows Small Group Proposed Text Under NDA (14 October 2009) <> at 24 October 2009

Digital Music News, USTR: We Can't Be Open About ACTA Because We Promised We Wouldn't Be (*Lobbyists Not Included) (28 September 2009) <> at 5 October 2009

ArsTechnica, EFF, libraries: Keep your ACTA out of our Internet! (19 July 2009) <> at 26 July 2009

ArsTechnica, Transatlantic coalition calls for "halt" to ACTA talks (23 June 2009) <> at 30 June 2009

TechDirt, Consumer Group Wants ACTA Discussions Stopped Until Consumer Rights Are Represented In Negotiations (29 June 2009) <> at 30 June 2009

ZeroPaid, Consumer Groups Want to Halt ACTA Negotiations (25 June 2009) <> at 25 June 2009

TechDirt, EFF, Public Knowledge Drop ACTA Lawsuit, Realizing 'National Secrets' Claim Will Block Them (18 June 2009) <> at 19 June 2009

TechDirt, Obama Administration Reiterates Its Support Of Secretive, Industry Written ACTA (15 June 2009) <> at 19 June 2009

ArsTechnica, ACTA transparency: can shame work where lawsuits fail? (7 May 2009) <> at 15 May 2009

Electronic Frontier Foundation, Government Still Blocking Information on Secret IP Enforcement Treaty (6 May 2009) <> at 10 May 2009

PC World, Groups Complain of Continued Secrecy About Trade Pact (7 May 2009) <> at 10 May 2009

TorrentFreak, Leaked ACTA Draft: More Power to the RIAA (14 April 2009) <> at 26 April 2009

TechDirt, Remember How ACTA Wasn't Supposed To Be A 'Major' Change To Copyright Laws? (15 April 2009) <> at 19 April 2009

Intellectual Property Watch, The ACTA Threat To The Future Of WIPO (14 April 2009) <> at 19 April 2009

ArsTechnica, Obama adminstration pledges "transparency" on ACTA (6 April 2009) <> at 11 April 2009

ChannelRegister, US outlines secretive international piracy deal (9 April 2009) <> at 11 April 2009

PC World, US Trade Office Releases Information on Secret Piracy Pact (8 April 2009) <> at 11 April 2009

The Star, Anti-counterfeiting treaty talks heat up (30 March 2009) <> at 3 April 2009

ArsTechnica, Obama administration won't release secret ACTA docs either (13 March 2009) <> at 23 March 2009

BoingBoing, Partial list of corporate lickspittles who are allowed to know what's in the secret copyright treaty the Obama administration claims is a matter of "national security" (14 March 2009) <> at 22 March 2009