Negotiations for an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement raise concerns

Mike Palmedo
June 13, 2008

The US, EU and eleven other developed countries have initiated talks to form an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The talks have been confidential, and no formal text is available, but a “Discussion Paper” circulated among participants was leaked and is now available on the web at http://file.sunshinepress.org:54445/acta-proposal-2007.pdf.


Civil society groups have many concerns about ACTA. The fact that the negotiations lack transparency worries many, as does the fact that developed countries seem to be setting standards by themselves – outside of the WTO or WIPO – that they could later seek to apply universally. Some of the concerns about the contents of the leaked ACTA Discussion Paper include:

1. There is no definition of ‘counterfeit,’ and various industry/government definitions could include generic drugs, or unauthorized copies of books or digital media that are not intended to be passed off as originals

2. The discussion paper includes criminal enforcement, which may be applied to those who copy media “without motivation for financial gain”

3. ISPs could be obliged to assist with enforcement against internet users

4. Customs officials could be tasked with copyright enforcement and given more authority in conducting searches and seizures.


This is by no means a complete list. For more information on civil society concerns about ACTA, here are three links:

1. Knowledge Ecology International comments to USTR

2. Op-ed by Michael Geist

3. Nate Anderson’s blog in Ars Technica

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