New ACTA leak: It's a screwjob for the world's poor countries

The secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has leaked again. Michael Geist has analysis below:
New ACTA leaks have emerged this week that fill in the blanks about the remainder of the still-secret treaty. While earlier leaks provided extensive detail on the Internet and civil enforcement chapters, these latest leaks shed new light into the criminal enforcement section, the chapter on ACTA institutional issues, and international cooperation.

The international cooperation chapter includes extensive provisions on capacity building and technical assistance. This is noteworthy since it (1) confirms the vision that developing countries will ultimately be pressured to join ACTA and (2) represents a counter to the developing country focus at WIPO. While WIPO has typically provided this assistance, the emergence of the development agenda has promoted a more balanced approach to technical assistance in developing countries. ACTA seeks to return technical assistance to an enforcement oriented approach.

Translation for non-wonks: Historically, developing countries have asked the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization for "technical assistance" with their copyright laws. This has usually amounted to "Create copyright laws that will make it easier for rich countries to get richer," but in the past several of years, WIPO has found itself with a large cadre of public interest activists and now, WIPO is working on a treaty on its "Development Agenda" to figure out a copyright system that serves humanitarian goals, too (for example, by making it legal for archivists and educators to work together to translated and adapt works that have different copyright rules in different countries).

We've all known that ACTA is a way of writing copyright treaties without having to let poor countries and human rights advocates into the room. We've suspected that poor countries -- who aren't invited to the negotiations -- will be strong-armed into signing onto the treate afterwards.

This leak confirms our worst fears: ACTA throws out the pretence of justice, fairness, and humanitarianism present at the UN, for pure, naked, crony-capitalism. It's an instrument for allowing entrenched corporations from rich countries change the laws of other countries to their benefit -- and to the detriment of the people of those countries.

It's a hijacking of the world's legislative systems by private interests, abetted by the US Trade Rep.

New ACTA Leaks: Criminal Enforcement, Institutional Issues, and International Cooperation (Thanks, Michael!)


  1. Fortunately (?), most developing countries don’t have the budget or the police presence to enforce this kind of treaty. I think pirate DVD’s on the street corners of the third world will remain a fixture for a LONG time. The law-enforcement infrastructure required to enforce these regulations would require a level of tax revenue and capital development that the world banking system is not likely to permit in these parts of the world. So in a sense, the giant multinational corporations will be a victim of their own success.

  2. Oh man it is highway robbery at gun point. By the way I find it hilarious that there are leaks on these documents.

    1. Yeah, that really ups my confidence in the efficacy of their efforts against unauthorized copying.

  3. What does this mean for third world countries that allow generic drugs but are copyrighted elsewhere?

    Does it mean that millions maybe billions of people will suddenly be denied life saving medicine because of this treaty?

    We are focusing on the intellectual property side of this treaty but there are real world copyrights that could be affected like cheap generic drugs.

  4. Democracy is the majority of the people deciding what is best for the majority of the people. How can ACTA be described as anything other than a complete subversion of democracy? Is forcing greater restrictions on copyright what the majority of the people want, when they don’t even know that’s what their governments are planning to do? What would happen if ACTA was put to a vote of the people?

    Let’s look at how ACTA will be approved in the USA. First an international agreement, outside of any other international governing body, is being made under a “national security” level of secrecy preventing the public from knowing what is in the law before passage. Second, American big businesses are dictating to the world what they want other nations’ copyright laws to be instead of allowing each country to decide how to govern itself. Third the President of the United States will sign it into law under “executive agreement” without the approval, consent or even knowledge of the Senate or Congress (yes, he actually does have that power, you can look it up on Wikipedia). Lastly, if anyone tries to back out of the ACTA the excuse will be, “We can’t or there will be sanctions” so that ACTA will be law forever.

    All this is being brought to us by the people who tried to sue an 89 year old woman who had been dead for some time and tried to have the VCR banned saying “…that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” (Yeah, I know, tl;dr.)

  5. Пиратству надо дать бой! Я за качество!

  6. “Technical assistance” is a great euphemism for bribes. Anyway, the North-South scheme does not hold though the European Commission is very frank that this treaty is mostly about trading it on ‘problem states’.

    “Lastly, if anyone tries to back out of the ACTA the excuse will be, “We can’t or there will be sanctions” so that ACTA will be law forever.”

    Exactly, I coined it ‘Liquid Concrete’ recently. It cements controversial new standards for a fastly changing digital environment and access to medication ecc., without a proper democratic procedure, without an open and honest debate, without impact assessments and without opt-out options. It is hard to tell what national or European legislators gain from the process other than a loss of flexibility and powers.

    Some members of the democratic fractions of parliament, European Peoples Party, Green Group etc prepared a cross-partisan Written Declaration 12/2010. So there are now three month for your Member of the European Parliament to sign up 12/2010 to preserve the very purpose of their public office in these confidential negotiations.

  7. As #1 pointed out, these clowns have no idea… Do they really think developing countries are gonna start arresting and charging people for downloading Susan Boyle’s album when they have slightly more serious problems like, oh say; crippling inflation, widespread food shortages, disease and destruction of arable land & water supply hanging over their heads?

    What a joke. As far as I understand, there are already existing laws that ban software designed to strip copy protection from DVD videos. For the last 10 years I have been able to download, in a matter of minutes, software required to do just this. Do they really think new laws are gonna curb piracy? Nope…. as #3 pointed out, this is just Colonialism masquerading as law.

    Message to ACTA participants: do you really think you can outsmart the same people who have been beating you since day 1? Piracy will always exist. Pirates will always be 5 steps ahead of you. Anyone you succeed in prosecuting is just going to be a drop in the sea, only to be replaced with 50 others doing the exact same thing. Eat shit.

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