ACTA Talks Wrap Up, Latest Text Released
After three years and 10 rounds of talks, the United States and several other countries appear to have wrapped up formal talks over a proposed trade agreement aimed at increasing international cooperation in the fight to curb piracy and counterfeiting.
The parties released the latest text Wednesday following the final round of talks in Tokyo last week over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Despite public release of a text, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that the “draft agreement will undergo final legal review and relevant domestic processes before signature.”
“This text reflects tremendous progress in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy – a global crime wave that robs workers in the United States and around the world of good-paying jobs and exposes consumers to dangerous products,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement. “…We must now work quickly with our partners to finalize the results achieved in the Tokyo.”
In addition to the United States, other countries involved in the ACTA talks included the member countries of the European Union as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland.
“Today’s release of the ACTA text marks an important step forward in the negotiations between 40 countries working to raise the bar for intellectual property enforcement,” Rob Calia, senior director for counterfeiting and piracy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, said in a news release. “Better enforcement of IP rights around the world will help strengthen the global economy, create new jobs, and protect consumers from dangerous products.”
Some public interest and technology groups as well as U.S. and European lawmakers have criticized the secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiating process. Critics also voiced concern with some of the proposed provisions in previous drafts, particularly those related to online infringement and counterfeiting. They said the proposed deal would export IP protections in U.S. law without including provisions balancing the rights of users.
In the latest draft’s Internet chapter, language is included requiring signatories to the agreement to have rules that would bar tampering with technologies aimed at protecting copyrights and prohibit the sale of products that could circumvent such protections, provisions included in the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That law provides protections from liability for U.S. Internet service providers who take down copyrighted material when they are notified of its existence on their networks.
There was some concern that ACTA could make ISPs liable for infringement that takes place on their networks. While the latest draft gives countries the right to order an ISP to provide information about someone who is infringing copyrighted works, it requires that such procedures “shall be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity.”