US Trade Agency Releases Final Text of ACTA

Negotiators working on a controversial international copyright-enforcement agreement have finalized the language in the proposed pact, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Monday.

The final language of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is available at the USTR’s website. The proposed agreement, encompassing the U.S., U.K., Japan, the European Union and several other nations, would require signing nations to include border searches in their copyright enforcement measures.

ACTA would also require nations to include injunctions and fines as part of their copyright enforcement laws, as well as seizure of equipment used in copyright infringement activities. ACTA would also require participating nations to take steps to stem online infringement of works protected by copyright.

ACTA can now go to governing bodies in the negotiating nations for a decision on whether to approve the agreement, the USTR said in a press release. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has suggested that it could approve ACTA as an executive agreement without congressional approval, but critics have challenged that view.

The U.S. president has some limited authority to enter into executive agreements under the U.S. Constitution, said Sean Flynn, associate director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the American University law school in Washington, D.C.

“But ACTA does not fall into such a realm,” Flynn said in a new paper. “The subjects of ACTA — the regulation of international commerce and of intellectual property — are … powers delegated to Congress, not the president.”

Several digital rights groups have decried ACTA as an overly broad effort to enforce copyright laws. In many of the nations negotiating ACTA, fair-use exemptions to copyright laws aren’t recognized, which could lead to legal problems for U.S. companies offering new products and services that play digital media, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an advocacy group representing businesses, welcomed the release of the final text. “As we continue to review this final text, we are optimistic that this agreement will enhance international cooperation among nearly 40 countries by establishing a meaningful and effective framework for the protection of IP rights consistent with current laws,” the group said in a statement.

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