The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is an international agreement which was first introduced in 2005. It it currently not in effect and has no ratifiers amongst signing states (six are required for its enactment), which include the United States, the European Union, and other nations around the globe, on four continents.
The following nations have all signed onto the international agreement:
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- European Union (22 signing members, 5 additional)
Provisions and PurposeEdit
The purpose of ACTA is to established uniform digital rights enforcement and protection amongst signatory states. It is supposed to establish legal framework for things such as copyright infringement, generic medicine and counterfeit goods.
ACTA was experiencing multiple drafts for most of its history. Due to the relatively high secrecy of the agreement's creation, the only drafts for numerous years made available to the public was through WikiLeaks. The first formal draft was released in 2012, after leaks dating back to 2008. The final drafting of ACTA took place on April 15, 2012, after most of its controversial provisions were removed.
ACTA has been opposed by many civil and digital rights organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress and Access Now, as well as internet and tech giants like Wikipedia and Reddit also oppose the legislation, on the grounds of the potentially adverse effect it could have on fundamental digital and civil rights, such as the freedom of expression. It has been repeatedly labelled policy laundering. The rapporteur, Kader Arif, of the European Parliament, the principle legislative department of the EU, resigned after examining the agreement, hoping the drastic measure would have a negative impact upon the council.
The activist group Access New staged widespread protests on February 11th across the globe, especially in Europe. Due to these protests, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, criticized the anti-piracy treaty, saying that it's bridge between security of copyright and protection of human rights was too biased to the former. :
Due to the drafting process and many controversial provisions being removed, much of the opposition against ACTA is now out of date and no longer relevant in its current form.
February 11th : Day of action against ACTA across EuropeEdit
On February 11th, many thousands demonstrated across Europe to denounce the ACTA agreement. While the biggest marches were held in Bulgaria, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, there were marches in Austria, Spain, Lithuania, France and the United Kingdom, and many other nations. Often wearing the mask of Anonymous, an arising emblem of cybermilitants, demonstrators marched peacefully to protest the agreement.
It's agreement by the Polish government resulted in widespread and massive protests, mostly if not all peaceful, by the Polish people.
On February 3rd, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, suspended ratification of ACTA, saying that the signing surrounding it was overly secret and that he approached it from a "20th century perspective."
In the Czech Republic and SlovakiaEdit
In January 2012, both nations' governments withdrew their acceptance of the agreement, as Poland did some days earlier. Slovakia's envoy who signed the deal later called her act one of "civil carelessness".
In the United StatesEdit
Due to the agreement being labeled an executive agreement, the treaty will not be going to the United States Senate for vote, as trade agreements would, which has been heavily downplayed by members of the United States Congress such as Ron Wyden and Darrell Issa, and the public in general.
Proposition for the agreement is argues it as a means to increase copyright restrictions and protect jobs in the content industry. The legislation is supported by many facets of the content industry, media and pharmaceutical providers being examples, including the following:
- Monsanto Company
- Time Warner
- The Walt Disney Company
- Motion Picture Association of America
- News Corporation
Currently, ACTA has been accepted by the EU, and June of 2012 will probably see a vote by the European Parliament on whether to ratify the agreement.
Each of the member states will then have the option on whether to ratify the treaty or not. All member states must ratify the treaty, or it will not go into force in any of the signatory states of the EU.