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EFF and Public Knowledge Reluctantly Drop Lawsuit for Information About ACTA

Government's 'National Security' Claims Keep IP Treaty Under Wraps

WASHINGTON - The Obama Administration's decision to support Bush-era concealment
policies has forced the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public
Knowledge (PK) to drop their lawsuit about the proposed
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). EFF and PK had been seeking
important documents about the secret intellectual property enforcement
treaty that has broad implications for global privacy and innovation.

Federal judges have very little discretion to overrule Executive
Branch decisions to classify information on "national security"
grounds, and the Obama Administration has recently informed the court
that it intends to defend the classification claims originally made by
the Bush Administration.

"We're extremely disappointed that we have to end our lawsuit, but
there is no point in continuing it if we're not going to obtain
information before ACTA is finalized," said EFF International Policy
Director Gwen Hinze. "There's a fundamental fairness issue at stake
here. It's now clear that the negotiating texts and background
documents for this trade agreement have been made available to
representatives of major media copyright owners and pharmaceutical
companies on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual
Property. Yet private citizens -- who stand to be greatly affected by
ACTA -- have had to rely on unofficial leaks for any substantive
information about the treaty and have had no opportunity for meaningful
input into the negotiation process. This can hardly be described as
transparent or balanced policy-making."

"Even though we have reluctantly dropped this lawsuit, we will
continue to press the U.S. Trade Representative and the Obama
Administration on the ACTA issues," said Public Knowledge Deputy Legal
Director Sherwin Siy. "The issues are too far-reaching and too
important to allow this important agreement to be negotiated behind
closed doors," he added.

Very little is known about ACTA, currently under negotiation between
the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries, other than that it is
not limited to anti-counterfeiting measures. Leaked documents indicate
that it could establish far-reaching customs regulations governing
searches over personal computers and iPods. Multi-national IP
corporations have publicly requested mandatory filtering of Internet
communications for potentially copyright-infringing material, as well
as the adoption of "Three Strikes" policies requiring the termination
of Internet access after repeat allegations of copyright infringement,
like the legislation recently invalidated in France. Last year, more
than 100 public interest organizations around the world called on ACTA
country negotiators to make the draft text available for public comment.

EFF and Public Knowledge first filed suit against the Office of the
U.S. Trade Representative in September of 2008 demanding that
background documents on ACTA be disclosed under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA). Rather than pursuing a lawsuit with little
chance of forcing the disclosure of key ACTA documents, EFF and Public
Knowledge will devote their efforts to advocating for consumer
representation on the U.S. Industry Trade Advisory Committee on IP, the
creation of a civil society trade advisory committee, and greater
government transparency about what ACTA means for citizens.

For more on this case:

For more on ACTA:


David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Gwen Hinze
International Policy Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Art Brodsky
Communications Director
Public Knowledge

Related Issues: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade AgreementFOIA Litigation for Accountable GovernmentInternational



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EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

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