The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

ACTA negotiators claim a deal has been done, but is it really a counterfeit?  How is it that a deal is successfully concluded when there are matters still outstanding?  It would seem that  the European Commission statement of a "successful" conclusion of ACTA is somewhat pre-emptive.

Moreover, the European Commission is misleading  us about  NGO participation in  the negotiation process.


The negotiators of the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) have made a public statement on the outcome of the Tokyo  negotiations, claiming a successful outcome.  Because the negotiations have taken place in secrecy, no-one is able to verify their claim. Yet independent  reports from the media agency Reuters indicate that  there are several outstanding issues.


No statement appears to have been issued yet by the US authorities. [Amendment - USTR is holding a briefing on Thursday 7 October]. However, a  formal statement was released   by the European Commission. It said that:

Participants in the negotiations constructively resolved nearly all substantive issues and produced a consolidated and largely finalized text of the proposed agreement, which will be submitted ad referendum to their respective authorities. The participants agreed to work expeditiously to resolve the small number of outstanding issues that require further examination in capitals, with a view to finalizing the text of the agreement as promptly as possible. The participants will publicly release the text of the agreement shortly.



Reading between the lines of this   statement from the European Commission (DG Trade) there remain matters to be settled.  The statement uses the phrase Ad referendum, which means that they feel they have agreed on the broad aspects, but some minor points still have to be resolved.


It begs the  question as to  what the ACTA  negotiators  consider "minor".   This question should be considered in light of the reminders in  the public statements  that a primary objective of  ACTA  is about Internet and new technology, and about copyright.


The DG Trade statement talks about "state-of-the-art  provisions on the enforcement of intellectual property rights".  This should set alarm bells ringing because it is most likely to be a reference to addressing Internet issues. "Robust co-operation" and "establishment of best practices" are also phrases to be wary of. "Co-operation " is the euphemism used by the rights-holders to mean that ISPs must enforce copyright online. It is also used in the context of law enforcement. "Best practices" is likely to be another deliberately obscuring term to hide their real intentions.


The  DG Trade  statement is also misleading on the  point of NGO participation in the ACTA process. It  says that ACTA negotiators had meetings with business leaders and NGOs. We know nothing about the business leaders who attended - and their names should be disclosed.


We do know that the claimed NGO meeting at the ACTA Tokyo negotiations took place with less than a handful of guests,  if it took  place at all, and the  requests from NGOs and the European Parliament  for a meeting with ACTA negotiators at a time when they could attend, were declined.


The Reuters report on the ACTA Tokyo meeting said that "nearly all the parties" had agreed, indicating that some had not. Reuters quoted the US representive saying that they were ‘on the threshold' of an agreement, which also means they are not there yet. 


And, As La Quadrature du Net reminds us, ACTA has been negotiated in secret, behind some very firmly closed doors, and has no democratic legitimacy. Whatever the outcome, ACTA  is  very  much a counterfeit agreement.



Read the full  statement from the European Commission, DG  Trade, on the ACTA Tokyo round 




This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) The ACTA deal - are they faking it? 4 October 2010







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