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The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international treaty that is being negotiated by a handful of nations, in a very secretive way. The text of the ACTA has not been officially released, but some of the issues under negotiation can be found through several leaked documents. However, public officials are unable to comment on such leaked documents.

Although its name may indicate that it is to deal with issues around counterfeiting, leaked documents have shown that the scope of the agreement may go well beyond that, to include other types of copyright and intellectual property infringements. And this raises two important questions:

  1. Why is an ‘antitrade agreement’ being negotiated by only a handful of countries to deal with issues that should fall under the umbrella of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which has a greater representation of nations?
  2. Why the secrecy?

The next round of negotiations of ACTA is to be held in Wellington, New Zealand, this week. As a response, a conference known as PublicACTA was held on Saturday to draft a response to be presented to the ACTA negotiators in Wellington. The document now known as The Wellington Declaration can be found online and is linked to the petition signature page.

The document calls for transparency in the negotiation process and an opportunity for public participation, as well as a definition of the specific issues that are or should be associated with the ACTA itself.

Anyone that uses the internet will be either directly or indirectly affected by the ACTA resolutions. It is shocking to me that while on the one hand there is an increasing awareness of the need to open government and scientific data for public scrutiny, an agreement that will impact on the most ubiquitous medium for data sharing, open collaborations and discussions, is done behind closed doors and without significant public participation. If this is not a contradiction in terms, then I need to buy another dictionary.

  • Michael Geist’s blog is a great source of information.
  • The video of the Conference is now here.
  • The Wellington Declaration is here.
  • The petition signature page is here.