PIJIP Launches Project to Shed Light on Secretive Intellectual Property Agreement

Google Funded project to promote public interest analysis of international IP enforcement

Contact: Sean Flynn, 202-294-5749

WASHINGTON, DC, February 26, 2010 - American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) is launching a new project to promote analysis of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), whose negotiations have so far been held in secret and could impact public interest concerns around the world.

ACTA is a new international intellectual property agreement being negotiated by the USA and a small number of mostly wealthy country partners, including the European Commission, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.

“The refusal of the United States to promote the public release of the ACTA negotiating text and promote public interest analysis of it is a colossal disservice to the world,” said Sean Flynn, associate director of PIJIP.  “But with the latest leak of the internet provisions of the agreement just this week, we now have a pretty full, if not current, copy of the secret text. This project aims to create a public record of analysis of what we know is in being negotiated in private.”

PIJIP held a meeting on February 23 that convened 40 public interest advocates and scholars from nine countries in an effort to foster conversation on ACTA and other aspects of the shift of international intellectual property law making toward an enforcement agenda. The next steps of the project will be to launch a resource website with copies of the leaked text and links to other research resources, to issue a call for papers analyzing the agreement, and to sponsor a public meeting to disseminate the analysis produced thus far in mid June, 2010.

With support from a gift from Google Inc., PIJIP is attempting to fill the gap in concrete analysis of the impact of the secret agreement on these and other public concerns through a project promoting the public interest analysis of copies of the secret text that have been leaked to the public.

Unlike other multilateral treaties on intellectual property – such as the World Trade Organization’s agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – this agreement is being negotiated in secret.

Largely because there have been no official drafts of the text of the agreement released to the public, there is a dearth of analyses of how the agreement would affect public interest concerns around the world.  Some groups that have expressed concerns over the impact of the agreement on public interests include:

  • libraries that need to digitize collections;
  • internet service providers and privacy advocates worried about the implications private policing of the internet;
  • health advocates concerned about the availability of generic drugs in developing countries;
  • education advocates concerned about access to teaching materials ;
  • creators of public media which relies on interpretation and transformation of copyrighted content.

The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at the Washington College of Law promotes public interest approaches to domestic and international intellectual property law through advocacy, events and the provision of legal and consulting services.  PIJIP’s activities focus on a balanced approach to intellectual property and other legal regimes that reward creators while ensuring broad public access to information and its products. This meeting is part of PIJIP’s project examining public interest impacts of the international intellectual property enforcement agenda, funded in part by a gift from Google, Inc.

For more information on PIJIP’s enforcement project, see http://www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/go/enforcement

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