Friday, 26 November 2010

European Parliament approves ACTA

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has been nothing if not controversial - once, that is, the world learnt of its existance. At first it was that most undemocratic-sounding thing, a secret treaty. The fact that MEPs were kept in the dark about it for a long time was reflected in the small majority given for it in the European Parliament, but now the Commission has a mandate to go to Sydney from 30 November to 3 December and agree to it. The EP still wants assurances from the Commission that it will not affect existing basic freedoms under EU law, which already exceeds international standards in this area. It seems that the latest draft wouldn't require any changes to law in the EU for this reason.

The agreement deals with enforcement of intellectual property rights and combatting online piracy and unlawful software. It will also deal with circumvention devices and software, which must form part of any joined-up approach to online infringements. It leaves it open to signatories to impose a three-strikes rule, though that is no longer mandatory as it was in earlier versions of the agreement.

The agreement has been negotiated between Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico, the USA and the EU. The omission of China has been perceived as a significant weakness - likewise, I suppose, the absence of the other BRICs.

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