Just in from Arstechnica, by Nate Anderson:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) isn't just another secret treaty—it's a way of life. If ACTA passes in anything like its current form, it will create an entirely new international secretariat to administer and extend the agreement.
Knowledge Ecology International got its hands on more of the leaked ACTA text this week, including a chapter on "Institutional Arrangements" that has not leaked before. The chapter makes clear that ACTA will be far more than a standard trade agreement; it appears to be nothing less than an attempt to make a new international institution that will handle some of the duties of groups like the WTO and WIPO.
Why bother? Well, from the perspective of countries like the US, the existing institutions have problems. For one, they feature a huge number of nations, some of whom have blocked some of the anti-counterfeiting provisions desired by the US and others. Call this the UN problem—getting much done with so many people in attendance can be tricky, and ACTA has become a "coalition of the willing" who have decided to go form their own club instead.
But WIPO, especially, has also opened up over the last decade, and now has robust rules for the participation of consumer groups and other non-governmental organizations. It also requires far more transparency, with the publication of proposals and draft texts throughout a negotiating process. As we have seen too clearly, ACTA has none of this.
Jamie Love of KEI claims that the US Trade Representative has already "told members of Congress it is their intention to marginalize the participation by consumer interest organizations in the new forum."
The new ACTA secretariat won't be a mere administrator. The leaked chapter makes clear that the new governing body will "make recommendations regarding the implementation of ACTA" and will itself "identify and monitor techniques of piracy and counterfeiting."
In other ACTA news, a separate chapter has also leaked, and in it the EU wants to make sure that criminal penalties exist for "cases of willful trademark counterfeiting and copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale." On a "commercial scale" doesn't mean that such infringement must be done for financial gain, however; it also includes "significant willful copyright or related rights infringements that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain."
Despite the public support of President Obama, ACTA is running into bad press throughout the world. The European Parliament last week even managed to pass a strong resolution of displeasure with the ACTA process, which passed 633-13.
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