New ACTA copyright treaty dodges the UN, poor countries and activists

Michael Geist sez, "The World Intellectual Property Organization may be best known for the Internet treaties that led to the DMCA, but in recent years groups like EFF, KEI, and Public Knowledge has helped to open things up and move toward a Development Agenda that better balances international intellectual property policy. That progress may be threatened by the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which officials now acknowledge is designed to exclude WIPO, developing countries, and NGOs."
Moreover, the criminal provisions go well beyond clear cases of commercial infringement by including criminal sanctions such as potential imprisonment for "significant wilful copyright and trademark infringement even where there is no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain."

Jail time for non-commercial infringement will generate considerable opposition, but it is the internet provisions that are likely to prove to be the most controversial. At the December meeting in Paris, the US submitted a "non-paper" that discussed internet copyright provisions, liability for internet service providers, and legal protection for digital locks.

While the substance of the treaty will remain fodder for much debate, Canadian officials recently hosted a public consultation during which they acknowledged the true motivation behind the ACTA. Senior officials stated that there were really two reasons for the treaty. The first, unsurprisingly, was concerns over counterfeiting. The second was the perceived stalemate at WIPO, where the growing emphasis on the Development Agenda and the heightened participation of developing countries and non-governmental organisations have stymied attempts by countries such as the United States to bull their way toward new treaties with little resistance.

Given the challenge of obtaining multilateral consensus at WIPO, the ACTA negotiating partners have instead opted for a plurilateral approach that circumvents possible opposition from developing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, India, Russia, or China. There have been hints of this in the past - an EU FAQ [frequently asked questions] document noted that "the membership and priorities of those organisations [G8, WTO, WIPO] simply are not the most conducive" to an ACTA-like initiative - yet the willingness to now state publicly what has been only speculated privately sends a shot across the bow for WIPO and the countries that support its commitment to multilateral policymaking.

The ACTA Threat To The Future Of WIPO


  1. It’s a bad sign when WIPO is considered too evenhanded by the copyright cartels.

    Anyone care to explain the difference between multilateral and plurilateral?

  2. Can we just trash the illusion that we live in democracies once and for all. It’s oligarchy all the way down.

  3. Anyone care to explain the difference between multilateral and plurilateral?

    multilateral = Persian Gulf War international coalition

    plurilateral = Iraq War “coalition of the willing”

  4. So WIPO are the good guys now? Sheesh.

    And can anyone explain to me what a ‘non-paper’ is? I can identify lots of things that are not made of paper, and I read academic papers and white papers often – but ‘non-paper’? Is that text we are not permitted to evaluate or discuss, just accept?

  5. You know, I think this shows that we may be able to kill this piece of garbage. They’re avoiding *WIPO* and they’re operating in *secret*. I think aiming directly at legislatures (responsible for deciding whether to approve treaties) is the way to go — they can be inoculated against this and then it will be stillborn even if they do somehow produce a “treaty”.

  6. Multilateral = when multitudes or all member countries of the pertinent organization (e.g. WIPO) participated in drafting of the treaty along side (i.e lateral) others. “Lateral” would also denote same plane, horizontally aligned, same level of rights, or equal-footing.

    Plurilateral = roots: “Plural” and “Lateral”

    Lateral = explained above

    Plural = denotes “many”. More appropriately, more than three (3) participants because if there are just two(2), then it’s “bilateral.” It there are three(3), they are usually called “tripartite”

    What distinguished it from “Multilateral?”

    The two prefixes per se is not at all different from each other as both denote “many.”

    The nomenclature largely serve to distinguish the “manner of selection” by which these sovereign states (through their representatives) have group themselves together motivated by “common interests” relative to those who are members of the particular agreement; but the same may not be the “common interest” as perceived by the whole “multitudes” of member countries.

    Kinda like choosing your own clique when you were in high school and “bullying” other groups or individuals into submission to the standards that you and your clique have pre-set for the rest of the “uncool” students. And we know that this is really BS!

    It is the simplest analogy i could muster.

  7. it is the duty of Congress to deal with copyright laws. If Obama signs a treaty, it still has to be ratified by 2/3 of the Congress

  8. Why is it that we only seem to believe that we can help ‘them’ against ‘their’ repressive governments, but when it comes to dealing with our repressive government, we only complain on forums.

    Why don’t we, the people, create our own treaty with which to make a deal with the government? We believe the internet gives us power, and we have successfully used it to a small degree on occasion. I suggest that now is the time to start thinking big and really wielding our voice to change the direction of our own governments, before that voice is taken away.

    As technology moves at an ever increasing pace, the corporations and governments will be left further and further behind, bogged down in their committees discussing last years ‘worrying’ tech. Therefore, it will become more and more important for us, the people, to intervene on our own behalf. At the very least we need to devise a mechanism to quickly arrive at consensus on certain issue so we can stand toe to toe with the faceless wormtongues, the corporations that whisper sweet nothings in our politicians ears.

    There are several organizations doing an admirable job at keeping us informed. What I’m advocating is that we find a reasonable way to take this to the next level. We need to react quickly and with a strong voice to new technologies and new government policies. But more importantly, we should be proactive. Collectively, we are the ones that can best see the possible directions (good/bad/indifferent) that new tech will take us. We need to beat the corporations to the government’s ear.

    If we don’t, I truly fear for the future of our society.

    1. I absolutely agree. we need to figure out a way to band people together, and not in several tiny anti-acta squads. we need a unified front of the american people for the rights of the internet.

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