Secret Counterfeiting Treaty Must Be Made Public, Global Organizations Say

For Immediate Release

Essential Action
Contact: 

Robert Weissman, director, Essential Action +1 (202) 387-8030, (Mobile) +1 (202) 360-1844, rob@essential.org
Australia: Kimberlee Weatherall, Lecturer, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland and Board Member, Australian Digital Alliance, (Mobile) +61 4 0376 2544, k.weatherall@law.uq.edu.au
Canada: Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, (Office) +1 (613) 562-5800 ext. 3319, mgeist@uottawa.ca
Korea: Byoung-il Oh, Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, (Tel) +82-2-774-455, (Mobile) +82-19-213-9199, antiropy@www.jinbo.net

Secret Counterfeiting Treaty Must Be Made Public, Global Organizations Say

WASHINGTON -  

More than 100 public interest organizations from around the world today
called on officials from the countries negotiating Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement (ACTA) -- the United States, the European Union,
Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New
Zealand -- to publish immediately the draft text of the agreement.

Secrecy around the treaty negotiation has fueled concerns that its terms will undermine vital consumer interests.

Organizations signing the letter include: Consumers Union, Electronic
Frontier Foundation, Essential Action, IP Justice, Knowledge Ecology
International, Public Knowledge, Global Trade Watch, U.S. Public
Interest Research Group, IP Left (Korea), Australian Digital Alliance,
The Canadian Library Association, Consumers Union of Japan, National
Consumer Council (UK) and Doctors without Borders' Campaign for
Essential Medicines.

Based on leaked documents and industry comments on the proposed treaty, the groups expressed concerns that ACTA may:

* Require Internet Service Providers to monitor all consumers' Internet communications;

* Interfere with fair use of copyrighted materials;

* Criminalize peer-to-peer electronic file sharing; and

* Undermine access to low-cost generic medicines.

"Because the text of the treaty and relevant discussion documents
remain secret, the public has no way of assessing whether and to what
extent these and related concerns are merited," say the public interest
groups in their letter.

Worsening the problem is the perception that industry lobbyists have
access to the text and are influencing the negotiations. "The lack of
transparency in negotiations of an agreement that will affect the
fundamental rights of citizens of the world is fundamentally
undemocratic. It is made worse by the public perception that lobbyists
from the music, film, software, video games, luxury goods and
pharmaceutical industries have had ready access to the ACTA text and
pre-text discussion documents through long-standing communication
channels."

"Why in the world are trade negotiators keeping the treaty a secret?"
asks Robert Weissman, director of Essential Action. "Are they worried
about counterfeiters influencing the negotiations? What possible
rationale is there for secrecy -- other than to lock out the public?
Intentionally or not, a treaty to prevent unauthorized copying may
easily go too far, and undermine important consumer interests. That's
why it is so important that this deal be negotiated in the light of
day."

The full text of the letter and the list of signers is available at: http://www.essentialaction.org/access/uploads/ACTA-signon.rtf

Additional quotes from international groups signing the letter is available at:
http://www.essentialaction.org/access/uploads/ACTAquotes.rtf

You can also access the documents at: www.essentialaction.org/access/index.php?/archives/173-Secret-Counterfeiting-Treaty-Public-Must-be-Made-Public,-Global-Organizations-Say.html

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Essential Action is a public health and corporate accountability group located in Washington, DC.

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