ACTA – Working Out Differences Between US and EU Tops Agenda

Tensions between the US and Europe have been rising all year this year. Recently, it was revealed that trying to work out the differences between the US and Europe is front and center in the secret negotiations. Currently, ACTA runs the risk of falling apart due to the new divide between these two major players in the negotiations.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’s (ACTA) survivability was in deep question lately due to the differences showing up between the US and Europe.

As early as the first part of February, would even walk away from the negotiations. Without Europe involved in ACTA, the functionality of ACTA would be severely compromised which is really bad news for supporters of the secret agreement.

Recently, TACD revealed that round ten of the ACTA negotiations would involve working out the differences between the US and Europe. Not really a surprise considering how close ACTA has come to failure.

From the blog posting:

The scope of the agreement is expected to be a main issue of discussion since both governments have reached a deadlock on whether products with geographic indications (GIs) should be included in the agreement, sources said. The EU wants the infringement of GIs to be protected and enforced the same as infringements of trademarks and copyrights.

For example, in the ACTA border measure section, the EU wants the ACTA to require signatories to empower customs officials in each country to be able to seize goods suspected of infringing GIs protected by that country. The U.S. is opposed to this for fear of U.S. exports being seized abroad at the border in third countries. The EU-proposed text would not require countries to recognize specific GIs, however.

An industry source said other ACTA countries at the end of the June 28 to July 1 round of negotiations in Lucerne, Switzerland called for the EU and U.S. to work on resolving their disagreement over the scope of the agreement. These countries feared that a continued stalemate on the issue could lead to a failed agreement or a much less influential one if either government were not a signatory, this source said.

A failure of this agreement would most certainly mean total disaster for copyright organizations hoping to ramp up copyright laws around the world by getting as many countries as possible to enforce a US DMCA style copyright law.

As usual, it seems that one of the biggest faults in ACTA is that it tried to take on too many issues all at once in one agreement. It’s this fact that could ultimately cripple the negotiations and cause a complete collapse of the agreement. Years and years of international lobbying from groups like the RIAA, MPAA, IFPI, BSA and others down the drain.

While the government said that this would be part of the next round of negotiations that some call round ten of negotiations, this isn’t the only issue to be discussed during negotiations as KEI Online notes. International co-operation is only one issue of many that is going to be tackled. The issues KEI notes that are to be discussed are:

1 Enforcement Practices & International Cooperation
2 Digital Issues
3 Criminal
4 Civil
5 Customs
6 Next Steps
7 Transparency
8 Press Release

Whether or not this list means international cooperation is on top of the agenda, the threat of a breakdown in the agreement, one would think, would be sufficient motivation to make this issue front and center.

What would make sense is to simply break down what topics that are currently in the negotiations, pick one that makes sense for the agreement – being physical counterfeiting – and say, “Look, we are asking for the world here with this agreement. We have to simplify these issues or else we will either be perpetually deadlocked in these negotiations or these negotiations are going to fall flat completely. Let’s just take the core issue that this agreements name suggests and simply tackle that so we can come to a consensus.”

So far, if there is any indication that suggests some people within the negotiations are saying this, then the direction would indicate that they are being overruled. It’s difficult to say if the US and EU can stop the stalling of the agreement the way things are going, but it still looks like it’ll be a while, at the very least, before much progress can be made on this agreement.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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