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ACTA: damp squid or mutant octopus?

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

My friend and colleague the Technoloma claims that ACTA has turned out to be a damp squid. He and I are in agreement on many issues, but this is an issue on which we come to different conclusions.

The reason that technollama gives for concluding: “at the moment it seems like the worst has been taken out of the agreement” is that the agreement as it now stands, and as technollama reads it, does not require statutory damages for copyright infringement, nor do the indisputably worrying intermediary liability provisions require 3 strikes style policing from Internet service providers.

However from the perspective of developing countries, a perspective which I’d expect technollama to understand and value, these are not have and have not been the primary problems with ACTA.

Instead there are a host of other problems with ACTA which will immediately hurt the poorest people in the world. I’ve set these out extensively in this working paper which is updated to take into account changes made to the draft treaty. Two of the most obvious are the squeezing of access to medicines and the future of the global intellectual property system. Already European customs officials are intercepting legitimate generic medicines being shipped through Europe to developing countries on the basis of spurious claims of trademark confusion. ACTA will require other countries to deprive poor people of medicines too.

In any event the mere existence of ACTA would if it is signed undercuts the legitimacy of WIPO and the WTO. It signals very strongly that not only are the developing countries unable to control the rent seeking of a few powerful corporations in their own countries but that they are willing to use their power to further that rent seeking in the rest of the world. This can only undermine the legitimacy of the global trading system, and a make a trade war more likely.

Working Paper: The Enforcement Agenda and the World’s Poorest People

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property has launched a series of working papers on international intellectual property enforcement.

The papers include analysis some of the many problems with the proposed ACTA, a far reaching treaty masquerading as a trade agreement. Papers examine graduated response in ACTA, intermediary liability for providing access to medicines in ACTA, the absence of public interest representation in the ACTA process, and the welfare implications of ACTA

My own paper, Collateral Damage: The Impact of ACTA and the Enforcement Agenda on the World’s Poorest People, looks at real life examples where the same measures that are proposed in ACTA have been implemented to see how ACTA will, if it is accepted, impact the world’s poorest people.

You can post your comments and critiques of my working paper as comments on this blogpost.