Friday, October 8, 2010
Negotiations over the final text of a new multilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) have been completed in Tokyo this week. The negotiations included all 27 European Union (EU) Member States, plus 10 others, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico and the United States. Supporters argue that ACTA is necessary to combat the growing trade in counterfeited goods and online piracy. Critics contend that the omission of China from the negotiations makes the new agreement almost worthless from the start. Critics have also raised concerns about large scale monitoring of Internet users and the possibility of third party liability whereby Internet service providers may be liable for infringement that takes place on their networks. Defenders of the agreement argue that the final text adequately addresses these concerns and requires that it be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity. See the Preamble and Article 2. The latest draft may be found here. It is expected to be open for signature within the next few weeks and will take effect once it has been ratified by at least six States.