|Wikileaks: Giving a helping hand
Image from here
Wikileaks, which first brought our attention to the ACTA back in mid 2008, has now brought attention to the history of how the ACTA came about. Expectedly, it shows that there had been explicit communication regarding the eventual imposition of TRIPS plus standards on developing countries. Somewhat surprisingly however, it appears that the EU behaved as rather weak negotiating party and were not completely happy with how the events unfolded. La Quadrature du Net has come out with an exclusive on these leaks. I’ll briefly highlight the interesting bits below.
Back in mid 2006, US first meets with Japanese officials to come up with a “plurilateral TRIPS-plus” agreement with a core objective of ‘circumventing international organisations in charge of intellectual property”. While the US insisted on avoiding collaboration with any international organisation, the Japanese made clear that the intent of the agreement was to be binding upon third party nations. In order to make it seem more legitimate, US and Japan recruit Jordon and Morocco to the negotiating table.
However, when they started interacting with the Europeans, there was some differences in positions. For starters, there was no mention of Geographic Indications in this TRIPS plus agreement, which affects Europeans, while placing all the emphasis on the issues which address America’s concerns of counterfeiting and piracy. Certain countries were not happy with EU being consulted before individual member countries since there was not a common position amongst all the European countries on certain crucial issues such as going around existing institutions. Finally, regarding the most spoken about aspect of the ACTA – the complete lack of transparency in the making of such a potentially hard hitting international agreement was also opposed; an example of a Swedish official insisting that the lack of transparency in the proceedings undermines the whole process is given in the article.
It seems the European nations that disagreed were basically pushed around into going along with the whole process – which seems to be essentially America’s and Japan’s position on all issues.
Though this is an issue that we’ve discussed many many times
on this blog, I believe I speak for all of us who have written on it, that no matter which aspect of it we look at, this International Agreement has a very shaky legal (and moral, I would add) basis, if any at all. There has consistently been a clear agenda of preparing a set of TRIPS-plus laws that could be ‘forcefully’ exported onto developing countries that do not, and rightfully should not want these laws. With the amount of protest that this agreement has been getting right from the first whiff of it, I’d say it’s also been a very arrogant gesture on the part of the negotiating parties to try making it appear legitimate when it clearly is not. And on that same note, I hope that the negotiators are not completely ignorant to the fact that unnecessarily strong IP rights, legitimate or not may bring in some quick money to certain industries in rich countries in the short run, but they are going to harm innovation in the long run for everyone.
(Much thanks to Vishwas Deviah for bringing this development to our attention!)
Once again, for those interested in the original article from la quadrature, it’s available here