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Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in International, Law, Media, Science & Technology | 3 comments

On ACTA, U.S. Media Turned The Other Way

If you are a U.S. citizen and wondered why back in the fall when the U.S. signed the agreement in Tokyo you didn’t hear anything about ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, it might be because U.S. media ignored the event.

newspapers reporting on ACTA

Newspapers Reporting On ACTA, Sept 1 - Nov 1, 2011

According to LexisNexis[1], only 13 newspapers covered the story between September 1 and November 1, 2011; the agreement was signed on October 1. Do you recognize any of them?

From January 1 to September 1, there were only seven newspaper stories in LexisNexis. Results from GoogleNews mirror those from LexisNexis.

India insisted it would “not accept any intellectual property talks outside WTO” and The Guardian ran a column from Cory Doctorow that mentioned ACTA as it analyzed how computers can be used to “control and spy on us.”

Compare that with 82 newspaper articles, mostly U.S., published in December 2011 that mentioned the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

It’s not like ACTA wasn’t talked about among insiders. Inside U.S. Trade, for example, ran an article on October 14, 2011 noting that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) challenged the Obama Administration. In a press release, Sen. Wyden said:

“It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law,” Wyden writes. “But regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law…the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress’ authority, absent congressional approval.”

And it’s not like ACTA wasn’t talked about by lawyers and geeks.

It simply wasn’t talked about by the media elite, many of which are linked directly or indirectly to Hollywood.

Despite the fact that thousands are protesting in Europe, U.S. newspapers are still ignoring the treaty. But here’s the Financial Times, from Thursday:

Though ACTA has already been signed or initialled by all EU governments, it requires ratification by all 27 national parliaments as well as the European Parliament in Brussels.

That process looks to have been derailed by the anti-ACTA activists, particularly in central and eastern Europe.

Even the RIAA chief, writing in the NY Times last week, went after SOPA/PIPA but mentioned not one word about ACTA or the RIAA’s role in crafting its language. By the way, he implied that if you opposed either piece of legislation that you were either gullible (“anybody could click on a link or tweet in outrage — but how many knew what they were supporting or opposing”) or misinformed (“The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power.”)

Back during the development of the treaty:

The negotiating text of ACTA and many other documents, including even the lists of participants in the negotiations, are secret. The White House claims the secrecy is required as a matter of national security. But that does not mean the documents are off limits to everyone outside of the government. Hundreds of advisors, many of them corporate lobbyists, are considered “cleared advisors.” They have access to the ACTA documents.

THE BATTLE OF COPYRIGHT 2011 Christopher DombresWho is on the U.S. Trade Representative Advisory Committees who saw the pre-public text of ACTA?

  • Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights
  • Entertainment Software Association
  • International Intellectual Property Alliance
  • Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.
  • Recording Industry Association of America
  • Software and Information Industry Association
  • Time-Warner
  • Verizon Communications Inc

The 2009 FOIA request also revealed that Sony Pictures Entertainment and News Corp were privvy to pre-public documents. More background from Knowledge Ecology International on the ACTA process.

If you don’t think the IP measures relating to digital content are onerous, what about generic drugs?

The French MEP who resigned his position in charge of negotiating the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) has said it “goes too far” by potentially cutting access to lifesaving generic drugs and restricting internet freedom.

[…]

“The title of this agreement is misleading, because it’s not only about counterfeiting, it’s about the violation of intellectual property rights,” he told the Guardian. “There is a major difference between these two concepts.”

[…]

“The problem with Acta is that, by focusing on the fight against violation of intellectual property rights in general, it treats a generic drug just as a counterfeited drug. This means the patent holder can stop the shipping of the drugs to a developing country, seize the cargo and even order the destruction of the drugs as a preventive measure.”

This trade agreement has been negotiated in the dark with input from insiders who will profit from restricted trade.

Just say no.

Call your Senators and demand that ACTA be treated like the treaty that it is, which requires Senate approval. Bring the discussion of intellectual property protection out of the backroom and into the sunlight.

[1] Source [News, All (English, Full Text)]; query: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
[2] Image THE BATTLE OF COPYRIGHT 2011 Christopher Dombres

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