ACTA aims for September completion

The ACTA would establish provisions to improve the capability of copyright enforcement for everything from music to medicine across international borders to reduce counterfeiting and illegal trade.
Written by Darren Pauli, Contributor on

Negotiators for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), including Australia, are hoping to have a final resolution for the controversial agreement by September.

Copyright document

(A copyright will protect you from pirates image, by Loan Sameli CC BY-SA 2.0)

Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States, and the European Union, amongst other parties, have been involved in the controversial international agreement, which seeks to establish provisions to enable greater copyright enforcement across international borders. Negotiations have been going on for two years, but have as yet not resulted on a draft document.

"Participants in the meeting agreed that Japan would host the next negotiating round in September 2010. Participants committed to resolving remaining substantive issues at that round, and agreed to publicly release the full text of the agreement before deciding to sign it," said a joint statement released by negotiating parties in the last week.

The statement follows the conclusion of the tenth ACTA meeting in Washington last week where representatives claimed progress across several sticking points and earmarked the next meeting in Japan for final discussions.

"Participants advanced their discussions in all sections of the agreement, including the preamble, initial provisions, general obligations, civil enforcement, border measures, criminal enforcement, enforcement measures in the digital environment, international cooperation, enforcement practices, institutional arrangements and final provisions," the statement said.

"Participants stressed the importance of ACTA as an Agreement that will establish an international framework for their efforts to more effectively combat the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy, which undermines legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy."

Official statements and leaked documents have indicated that some of the most radical proposals in the agreement, such as the three-strikes rule which would see repeat copyright infringers banned from using the internet, may have been dropped.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has kept mum on the agreement, but notes on its website that the government does not seek to change national law and is not obliged to join a resulting treaty.

The United States and New Zealand are two countries that have opposed components of the agreement, but it is unknown if they remain obstacles to a draft formulation.

US ACTA officials said that they had hosted informal meetings with representatives from non-governmental organisation and business leaders and reiterated that the trade agreement is "not intended to include new intellectual property rights or to enlarge or diminish existing intellectual property rights".

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