What is ACTA?
In October 2007, the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan simultaneously announced that they would negotiate a new intellectual property enforcement treaty the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA. Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada have joined the negotiations. Although the proposed treaty’s title might suggest that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines) what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope and in particular will deal with new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology”.
In recent years major U.S. and EU copyright industry rightsholder groups have sought stronger powers to enforce their intellectual property rights across the world to preserve their business models. These efforts have been underway in a number of international fora including at the World Trade Organization the World Customs Organization at the G8 summit at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement and at the Intellectual Property Experts’ Group at the Asia Pacific Economic Coalition. Since the conclusion of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Issues of Intellectual Property in 1994 (TRIPS) most new intellectual property enforcement powers have been created outside of the traditional multilateral venues through bilateral and regional free trade agreements entered into by the United States and the European Community with their respective key trading partners. ACTA is the new frontline in the global IP enforcement agenda.
To date, disturbingly little information has been released about the actual content of the agreement. However despite that it is clearly on a fast track, treaty proponents wanted it tabled at the G8 summit in July and completed by the end of 2008.
Why You Should Care About It