Tag Archives: trips

Summary of the copyright trade agreement

The par­tic­i­pants in the pro­posed Anti-coun­ter­feit­ing Trade Agree­ment (ACTA)—one of the few pluri­lat­er­al (non-region­al) trade agree­ments ever nego­ti­at­ed out­side the mul­ti­lat­er­al trade frame­work of GATT and WTO—have lift­ed the veil of secre­cy sur­round­ing their nego­ti­a­tions just a lit­tle by pub­lish­ing a “Sum­ma­ry of key ele­ments under dis­cus­sion”.

Although appar­ent­ly intend­ed to calm civ­il-lib­er­ties con­cerns, the new ACTA ‘sum­ma­ry’ does not offer any com­fort about e.g. the RIAA’s pro­pos­als to the U.S. gov­ern­ment that would shift the bur­den of enforce­ment of their IP rights onto the tax­pay­er, includ­ing tax­pay­ers in devel­op­ing coun­tries.

In fact, it con­tains lit­tle more than an expla­na­tion of the chap­ter head­ings in what must be, already, a fair­ly com­plete draft of the pro­posed ACTA treaty. It pro­vides no details about the con­tent of the pro­vi­sions and leaves a lot of ques­tions still open about the mem­ber­ship, scope and imple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment.

A ‘secret’ copyright treaty

In Feb­ru­ary this year, the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment joined nego­ti­a­tions with a num­ber of oth­er devel­oped economies on a pro­posed ACTA (Anti-Coun­ter­feit­ing Trade Agree­ment). The “negotiations”—if that’s what they are, they seem more like a draft­ing convention—are being con­duct­ed behind closed doors in Gene­va. There has been lit­tle infor­ma­tion from the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment on the ben­e­fits for Aus­tralia of an ACTA or on its poten­tial pro­vi­sions oth­er than this back­ground paper on the web­site of the Depart­ment of For­eign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Nor has any infor­ma­tion been offered on sub­mis­sions that Aus­tralia might have made to the par­ties.

I think the process of cre­at­ing this treaty is like­ly to be harm­ful to the inter­na­tion­al trad­ing sys­tem. As to it’s content—who knows? Spec­u­la­tion tends to plau­si­ble sug­ges­tions of intru­sive, expen­sive, over­bear­ing enforce­ment. The ratio­nale for the treaty, how­ev­er, is implau­si­ble (see below). There is every rea­son to think that the ACTA pro­pos­al is being dri­ven by copy­right zealots who have no inter­est in the pub­lic inter­est bal­ance that each juris­dic­tion express­es in its copy­right laws. Their pur­suit of glob­al copy­right stan­dards and enforce­ment is like­ly to be moti­vat­ed by the exces­sive returns that they achieved—or at least, expect­ed—from the WTO’s 1994 TRIPS agree­ment.

Russia won’t make it into WTO this year

An impor­tant les­son from the last round of WTO nego­ti­a­tions was that economies close to join­ing WTO should make every effort to get in before the nego­ti­a­tions are over. Rus­sia has giv­en up on join­ing at the Hong Kong min­is­te­r­i­al con­fer­ence in Decem­ber, but it has still at least six months after that to com­plete […]

The limits of copyright protection

In a series of posts, Kim Weather­all has illu­mi­nat­ed the impact of the High Court’s deci­sion that Aus­tralia copy­right law—for the present— pro­tects the consumer’s right to access copy­right mate­ri­als acquired in con­tra­ven­tion of the right owner’s attempts to seg­ment the glob­al mar­ket sup­ply (by price dis­crim­i­na­tion). I read this deci­sion, casu­al­ly, as a con­fir­ma­tion […]