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

3rd post in a series on the government's response to  Hargreaves

What does an admission of involvement in ACTA say about the British government’s international policy on IPR?

Coverage of  the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)  has focussed on the EU negotiators, but a new British policy document reveals that  British officials were active participants in the ACTA

negotiations.   Although couched in diplomatic language, the British appear to  propose  support for ACTA  and to other bilateral agreements.

The revelation came in one of a raft of documents released at the beginning of the summer, along with  the government’s  response to the Hargreaves review of IPR. The British government is proposing ACTA as a necessary requirement for businesses working overseas:

One of the key problems for IP-intensive UK businesses operating overseas is enforcement. .We have been actively involved in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations (ACTA) which have been conducted amongst a group of 37 mainly developed countries and will set benchmark standards on enforcement.

Moving forward, the British government will: “pursue IP objectives bilaterally, and in plurilateral groups”.

The British policy document contains a defence of the decision to draft the ACTA outside the conventional structures such as WIPO. The document states that  progress on international IP matters was not possible within the conventional structures such as WIPO, therefore is was necessary to outside them:

Entrenched differences between developed and developing countries have meant that significant change to global IP policy has been almost impossible to agree since TRIPS in 1996. The political divide between North and South continues to affect multilateral negotiations. It has spilled over into other international negotiations, including Doha and on climate change, although there is little linkage between the fora. This has increasingly led developed countries to seek agreements outside the multilateral fora, for example ACTA. Agreeing global solutions to the global challenges facing IP, such as backlogs, has been virtually impossible. This has also had an impact on the quality of services WIPO provides, because it is very difficult to agree even minor technical reforms.

The British government wants to pursue IP policy objectives within the G8 group  of leading economies, and within the OECD.  The document states an objective to:

 Raise IP as part of wider international economic engagement, such as with the G20 and the OECD. IP discussions can be very insular. It is important to engage economic officials in capitals as well as negotiators, who often taken an intransigent line.

 This statement should be seen in the context of  the open clashes between civil society and government representatives  at the French-led eG8 earlier this year, and again  at  the OECD meeting this July. In both cases, leading academics and citizens advocates opposed the strong pro-copyright industry stance taken by the governmental delegates. According to the IGP blog, it mirrored the fight over the Telecoms Package.

 Looking at the other post-Hargreaves policy documents, which suggest harsher measures for Internet copyright enforcement, one does not get the impression that the British will be aligning with civil society, rather that they may seek to push some of their own draconian measures into the international arena.

 PLEASE CITE AS: Monica Horten (2011) British were active in ACTA negotiations 1 September 2011 . This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License for  non-commercial purposes, with the author attributed.







The Copyright Enforcement Enigma tells the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and how the copyright industries tried to hijack it.

'accurate and absorbing account of the story of the Telecoms Package' -Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology

'...a must read for those interested in knowing in depth about copyright enforcement and Internet.' -Journal of Intellectual Property Rights.  

Read more  

Ask your library to get it!

Order direct from the publisher.

Go to   Amazon

Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

European Parliament launch for Copyright Enforcement Enigma

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten, European expert on Internet policy and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

Contact  me to use  iptegrity content for commercial purposes

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review

Paperback and Kindle and Epub formats.

Available from all good online bookstores or get it from the publisher Zed Books  direct:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA