EU defends negotiations over the ACTA anti-piracy treaty
In a recently expanded information paper on the planned international anti-piracy treaty (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), the European Commission confronts, sometimes harsh, criticism of its secret negotiations. According to the paper, generated by the office of the responsible trade commissioner Catherine Ashton, the goal of the ongoing negotiations is to create an international framework with which to counter wholesale violations of copyrights.
The Commission argues that the competitiveness of the EU is highly dependent on intellectual property and that commercial abuses have "devastating" effects on the European economy and the jobs it creates. The paper states that ACTA will permit better enforcement of current copyrights and other legal protections, in order to protect the economy and jobs. It goes on to state that ACTA will not be more extensive than current EU regulations for protecting intellectual property. Rather, the planned treaty concentrates on curtailing criminal abuse on the commercial level and not on reprimanding consumers.
The European Commission further explains that a draft of the treaty does not yet exist. It stated that documents previously leaked to the public had been concepts proposed by parties involved in the negotiations, not draft agreements. According to the Commission, it is too early to speculate about possible results of the negotiations process. So far, it stated, there have been three rounds of negotiations dealing principally with protection measures on borders and civil legal instruments aimed at preventing copyright violations. There is no deadline for concluding the negotiations. The next round of talks is scheduled to take place in Paris in mid-December.
Currently, according to the Commission, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand Singapore, and Switzerland participate in the negotiations, along with the talks' initiators the US, Japan, and the EU. A long term goal is to involve the large developing economic regions of Russia and China in the ACTA process. The paper succinctly states that enforcing intellectual property rights in these regions could stand some improvement.
Previously, observers had levelled sharp criticism at the ACTA process. Above all, the Commission faced criticism of its practice of closed door-negotiations without involving representatives of civil society and without releasing any information about the plan. The European Commission defended its 'Star Chamber' practices as due measures to ensure the discretion required in inter-government negotiations. The Commission's paper also aims to dispel fears that the ACTA countries, together with industry, want to establish a new level of enforcement over and above existing international treaties.
For more on the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), see also:
- Anti-piracy agreement re-discusses copyright infringement liability
- G8 states want anti-piracy treaty by year end