Stop the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Stop the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

I just heard about the proposed ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) over at Free Software Daily and from the Free Software Foundation. Right now the governments of the United States, the European Commission, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico are secretly negotiating this new treaty which aims to increase the enforcement of intellectual property laws yet again.

From Wikipedia:

The proposed agreement would allow border officials to search laptops, MP3 players, and cellular phones for copyright-infringing content. It would also impose new cooperation requirements upon Internet service providers (ISPs), including perfunctory disclosure of customer information, and restrict the use of online privacy tools.

Quite obviously the negotiations on the treaty are behind closed doors, so the governments can finish the deal without any protest or interference from their own people. Once the trade agreement is signed they can claim (truthfully) that they are obligated by international law to ratify the treaty and sign it into national law.

From the Wikipedia article:

The ACTA proposal specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime, as well.

This means that the last step will be to push the whole thing through the WTO (World Trade Organization) and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). This won't be difficult at all, considering that all major developed countries, including the USA and the EU, will have agreed to push a WTO-treaty that will be largely the same as the ACTA, the treaty now being negotiated plurilaterally and outside of the WTO. This way developing nations will be locked out of the process but will still have to follow the WTO rules.

The only way to stop this whole thing is to prevent the treaty from being finalized and signed in the first place. So join the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and send and e-mail to your senator, or if you don't live in the US, try to make some stir about it in your own country. Let's hope our governments don't get away with it!



Maurice Cepeda's picture

I don't mean to suggest that people don't get behind assuring that this doesn't come into effect but ...

In Canada you have the right to create back-ups of music you buy and I assume software, too. Also, file sharing is sort of legal in Canada. At least, it is one way. You're allowed to download but not allowed to post copyrighted material. In both cases, if you were to be inspected and found to carry "unauthorized" copies, you could allows claim they are legit back-ups.

Given the above, I don't see how the above is enforceable (in Canada), unless some major changes to Canadian law were to occur.

Mauro Bieg's picture
Submitted by Mauro Bieg on

Well, international treaties are always negotiated and signed by the governments of the states concerned. Then they need to be ratified and signed into binding national law.

I guess Canadian law doesn't explicitly state that it's legal to download copyrighted content, it just doesn't state either that it is in fact illegal. So you wouldn't have to change Canadian law, just expand it.

Besides, the USA implemented the DMCA and the EU the 'EU Copyright Directive'. So it doesn't seem that difficult to get those things through parliament (with a little lobbying by Big Media).

Author information

Mauro Bieg's picture


Mauro Bieg is currently a student in Switzerland. As he is still young, his only work worth mentioning in this context is a text about the workings of information production in the age of the internet, covering everything from free software to free culture. The text is now part of the P2P Foundation's wiki:

Mauro Bieg's articles in the Free Software Magazine: