Wednesday 21 March 2018

Text of secret ACTA talks released

Matt Warman

A full text of the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) has been released for the first time, although information on specific country’s positions on the previously secret text is still not known.

Campaigners have been lobbying for the negotiations, some of which are concerned with online piracy, to become more transparent, and rumours had spread across the internet that the talks were discussing searching individual MP3 players at border crossings to look for pirated material.

In a statement released with the new text, the EU confirmed that this was not the case.

The Open Rights Group called the release of the text “a great victory for campaigners”, although leaks of the text and various other documents relating to the negotiations had already been made available online.

Participants in the negotiations included Australia, Canada, the European Union, represented by the European Commission, EU Presidents Spain and EU Member States, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States of America.

The EU stated that “participants reaffirmed the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of their respective positions in trade negotiations”.

As the text currently stands, it proposes a fixed-penalty for copyright infringement, which Robin Fry of law firm Beachcrofts described as likened the approach to wheel-clamping.

“Only the most desperate would risk €600 per unlawful song to save 99c. It's like a wheel-clamping regime for intellectual property - painful, possibly disproportionate, but effective."

The next round of talks will take place in Switzerland in June.

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