G8 Endorses ACTA: Great, so what’s in it?
G8 Endorses ACTA: Great, so what’s in it?
G8 Endorses ACTA: Great, so what’s in it?

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    In its “Declaration on the World Economy”, the G-8 included an endorsement of ACTA and ongoing efforts to “standardize” IP enforcement through customs organizations. “We encourage the acceleration of negotiations to establish a new international legal framework, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and seek to complete the negotiation by the end of this year,” the statement says.

    So we have a major endorsement of ACTA from the leadership of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And pressure to have this international legal agreement ready to roll at the end of the year. So what's going to be in this critically important, possibly binding international agreement, to be completed in less than six months?

    We have no idea.

    Seriously. The extent of what is known about ACTA and its provisions can fit on a single sheet of paper—literally. The US Trade Representative, when asking for comments on a putative agreement, provided a teeny bit more than one page's worth of text. This meager scrap of data is bolstered by a larger “discussion paper” that hints at more problematic provisions that could be included, like increased “cooperation” between ISPs and copyright holders, procedures to “expeditiously” turn over the personal information of alleged infringers, and DMCA-like anticircumvention provisions.

    We do know, however, what the content industry wants ACTA to look like. In its comments to the USTR, the RIAA suggests things like mandatory filtering, as well as the international expansion of bad ideas that have been implemented in the US, like criminalizing non-commercial infringement on the Internet.

    Wherever you stand on these issues, it shouldn't be hard to see that they are active, controversial topics that deserve more than a rubber stamp on the way to becoming international law. So if the drafters of the G8 declaration know something we don't about ACTA that makes them so eager to endorse it, I'd sincerely hope they'd share.