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International | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

A tougher ACTA to follow, from the Trans Pacific Partnership
by David Roknich
Wednesday Apr 17th, 2013 1:48 PM
By June of this year, a new copyright protection treaty will be on the table, delivered by the supporters of SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. It will be modeled after the secretive, pro-business, Trans Pacific Partnership.

Last week, members of the European Parliament were in Washington DC to discuss a replacement for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). According to Brian Beary of EUROPOLITICS:

... the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) said there was “overwhelming support” among MEPs for an agreement. Vital Moreira (S&D, Portugal) told Europolitics that he had no fear of Parliament turning against a deal the way it did with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which MEPs killed off in a July 2012 vote. “The procedure is quite different”

The new proposal, TTIP, will only have to pass one committee instead of several, and that is the International Trade Committeee, where business interests hold sway. The idea is act quickly, before public opposition is mobilized, which was the basic strategy behind the ACTA intiative.

When ACTA failed to pass the European Parliament last year, it was no surprise, especially to it's supporters. Kader Arif, designated as rapporteur resigned in protest due to their rushed calendar and heavy handed tactics, and from that point things headed downhill for ACTA, even though 22 member states signed the treaty on January 26.

The arguments against it were simple and popular. "This is not something we should import to Europe." says Christian Engström of the Pirate Party. Arguments in favor were specious, crafted by US corporations. Engström disected the proponents claims, and found them wanting:

”ACTA changes nothing, but is crucial” makes no sense
This is the main argument of the proponents of ACTA. In the US they say that ACTA will change no US laws, and in the EU they say that it will not change any EU laws. Yet, they say that signing ACTA is crucial. They have spent four years negotiating ACTA behind closed doors, and have used every trick in the book to keep both civil society and elected parliamentarians from being able to influence the outcome. But now that they are ready, they claim that what they have achieved is an agreement that changes nothing, but which must be signed anyway. This makes no sense.

Similar arguments took hold in the US, as Ars Technica reported:

Ordinarily, treaties need to be submitted to the US Senate for ratification, but the Obama administration has adopted the novel (and, some have argued, constitutionally dubious) approach of declaring ACTA an "executive agreement" that can be adopted unilaterally by the executive branch, as it ostensibly does not alter existing US law.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) raised concerns about the constitutionality of this tactic back in October. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) joined the chorus of criticism this week when he called ACTA "more dangerous than SOPA" at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "It’s not coming to me for a vote," he said. "It purports that it does not change existing laws. But once implemented, it creates a whole new enforcement system and will virtually tie the hands of Congress to undo it."

On the Fourth of July, 2012, a vote was forced on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in the European Parliament, in spite of delays sought by supporters. The bill went down in flames, with 478 MEPs opposed, 39 and 165 in favor.

By June of this year, a new treaty will be on the table, delivered by the supporters of SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. and the TPP.  Berend Diekmann, of the German government, presents it in glowing terms:

As many US policymakers see the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a blueprint for “modern” trade
agreements, it is highly likely that many of their proposals for the transatlantic agreement will be
“quarried” from the TPP. It is interesting to note, for instance, that the TPP was designed as an “open”
partnership, which other countries can join as long as they sign up to what has already been agreed. Some
proposals for the TTIP will probably be based on this approach. Furthermore, in TPP negotiations, the
United States have been advocating stricter rules of origin stipulating that all of the processing steps of a
product have to be performed within signatory states of the agreement. Other TPP partners favor more
generous rules for primary products. As for intellectual property rights (IPRs), the United States is
pushing for rules that go far beyond the TRIPS agreement concluded under the umbrella of the WTO. In
terms of institutionalizing IPRs, the United States would like to see a central enforcement authority
shaped in the image of its own administration.

At this point we don't have a draft of the agreement. If it is to follow from the example of TPP, you will never see one. You can download Diekmann's report and bibliography here.

Recommended links:

Anonymous ACTA video, with subtitles in Greek: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63JyXmu0fqM

Does ACTA live on in the EC IPRED Directive?:  http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/31565/does-acta-live-on-in-the-ec-ipred-directive/

Some Arguments Against ACTA:  http://christianengstrom.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/some-arguments-against-acta/

David Roknich,

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