With the release of leaked versions of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), opposition to the drafting process continues to grow. Recently IFLA issued a statement arguing that while it is appropriate for governments to act to stop commercial counterfeiting, the copyright and patent issues at stake in ACTA would be better addressed through the World International Property Organization (WIPO). They also object to the secrecy of the negotiations. The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) has also been active in its opposition to ACTA, most recently joining in a letter complaining about provisions in the leaked text and issuing a statement of LCA concerns. Earlier, Janice Pilch had prepared an issue brief on ACTA for the LCA.
The entire concept of drafting a treaty in secret in a republic such as ours is repugnant to me — and that is assuming that the treaty itself has some merit or reasonable purpose. This treaty has no such merits. If your treaty is so hostile to the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals that even the overtly anti-freedom “World International Property Organization” (WIPO) is not invited to the table, then you have gone beyond even the everyday abuse of power and perversion of the legal system by the media robber barons to which we have become accustomed in the United States (and elsewhere).
Aaron Shaw argues that “ACTA would create unduly harsh legal standards that do not reflect contemporary principles of democratic government, free market exchange, or civil liberties. Even though the precise terms of ACTA remain undecided, the negotiants’ preliminary documents reveal many troubling aspects of the proposed agreement,” such as removing “legal safeguards that protect Internet Service Providers from liability for the actions of their subscribers” in effect giving ISPs no option but to comply with privacy invasions. Shaw further says that ACTA “would also facilitate privacy violations by trademark and copyright holders against private citizens suspected of infringement activities without any sort of legal due process”.
So, who is really to blame for the involvement of the United States in this travesty? You are. Now go do something about it.