According to European Parliament sources, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has already been initialed. That would be amazing: normally the initialling of a trade agreement is a PR moment. Take for instance the EU – Korea free trade agreement: “EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon have today initialled a free trade agreement (…) Speaking following the initialling in Brussels, Commissioner Ashton said (…)”. The initialling of a trade agreement signifies the closing of negotiations with a stable legal text. Negotiators sign with their initials.
I asked the Commission 11 questions:
The EU is negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The parties published the final text.
1. When will the Commission initial ACTA?
2. Did the Commission already initial ACTA?
3. When did the Commission initial ACTA?
4. Which other parties initialed ACTA as well?
5. The initialling of the EU – Korea free trade agreement was a PR moment, why not the initialling of ACTA?
6. Does initialling ACTA fall under the secrecy agreement?
7. Did the Commission initial ACTA including the criminal measures?
8. Did the Commission add negotiator’s notes?
9. Will the parties publish the negotiator’s notes?
10. Did the Presidency initial ACTA as well?
11. Did the Presidency add negotiator’s notes?
And you seriously expect them to answer this?
Sorry, ACTA has my cynicism at an all time high, partly because no one, including you, seem to understand it’s real purpose. ACTA isn’t really about controlling ‘piracy’ or unlicensed downloads, rather the aim is to make it impossible for competition, i.e. independent artists, to use alternative release channels.
Let’s take Nina Paley’s ‘Sita Sings The Blues’ which was released successfully on The Pirate Bay, and has earned Nina some decent coin after she paid back the initial loan. If ACTA comes into force, The Pirate Bay, and other sites like it won’t exist.
Now you may argue that other channels could arise to take the place of The Pirate Bay. The problem is that the aim of ACTA is to make running any sort of content site costly. The higher the costs, the fewer the competitors that the big boys have to deal with, which they think will mean that they can charge more for doing less.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States was an early attempt to limit competition, with it’s ‘Notice and Takedown’ system. The idea was to overload the system with notices, so that it wasn’t feasible to operate. It didn’t end up working the way that the big boys wants, so now we have ACTA. Admittedly ACTA has been at least partially defanged, however attempts will be made to fix those issues with ACTA II, the negotiations for which should start some time in 2011.
Yes, of course the Commission answers and addresses questions posed to them.
ACTA is primarily about pharmaceuticals and maximalism concerning trade belief systems of IPR enforcement. There are industry concerns of enforcement of rights and counterfeiting is a problem. That is not the issue and probably does not require a change of law. We are concerned about collateral damages of overblown one-sided protection, that is increase of market risks, and damages to the existing IPR system.
Let’s keep ACTA so secret that for the next 100 years no one will know about it. Just ignore it completely an of course support all creative expressions by our artists. Maybe even for free with our own webservers.