Copyright Enforcement in the Digital Environment
As the eighth round of negotiations on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement) gets underway in New Zealand, a group opposed to the agreement
has launched a petition in support of a campaign to get governments to change
their approach to the negotiations.
The goal of ACTA is to set a new, higher benchmark for
intellectual property rights (IPRs) enforcement that countries can join on a
voluntary basis. The discussions represent a cooperative effort by these
governments to respond to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and
pirated copyright protected works.
However, opponents have attacked the secrecy that has
surrounded the ACTA negotiations, and fear that the resulting agreement will
infringe on digital rights and impose draconian rules aimed largely at
protecting the interests of copyright holders (eg: the entertainment industry).
A group called PublicACTA met in Wellington at the weekend, comprising
mainly groups and individuals specifically interested in online freedom and the
rights of internet users.
The resulting document, called The Wellington Declaration,
says ACTA should be limited to counterfeiting (the large scale commercial production
of illicit physical goods). It says the negotiating process should be more
transparent, consistent with existing agreements and organisations such as WIPO
(World Intellectual Property Organisation) and less US-centric.
The Declaration says ACTA is counter to the concept of the
internet as a human right, should recognise the concepts of freedom of speech
and fair use, should not make ISPs conduct surveillance of their users, and
should place the burden of proof on holders of copyright.
The ACTA negotiations are being held in Wellington from
April 12th-16th. The PublicACTA declaration can be
viewed, and the petition supporting it signed, at publicacta.org.nz.