Sunday, December 06, 2009

Canadian Proposal for ACTA Secretariat

The indispensable Jamie Love has posted a much more convenient version of an earlier leaked “non-paper” from Canada which proposes an ACTA “Council”, i.e. secretariat, that would stand apart from WIPO and the WTO.

Let us assume that this document is authentic. If it isn't, Canada should promptly say so.

This document not only suggests that ACTA will be a fertile turf for cultivation by ambitious bureaucrats and lobbyists but that Canadian officials may be treating ACTA a lot more seriously and enthusiastically than Canadian Ministers realize or care to admit. I, for one, would like to take Minister Clement at this word when he says that ACTA will be “subservient” to Canada’s domestic law and policy.

Anyway, here’s what the leaked Canadian document is all about in its own words:

During the informal meeting of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (hereafter
referred to as ACTA, or “the Agreement”), in Berne, Switzerland, on March 11-12, 2008,
negotiating partners discussed a number of institutional issues to be eventually
considered under Chapter Five of the Agreement (“Institutional Arrangements”), such
as, inter alia, monitoring and evaluation, dispute settlement, and accession, as well as
the various options to address them. In giving consideration to how these issues could be
addressed, Canada offered to prepare a non-paper outlining the various options that
negotiating partners might like to consider.

It is noted that the various issues to be addressed under the Agreement will require some
level of administrative commitment from each of the Parties, and have been enumerated
in view of Parties’ existing IP and enforcement-related requirements, arising from both
treaty obligations and from domestic law, with a view to reducing the overall
administrative burden on each Party. As such, it is noted that this list is non-exhaustive,
and in that light, Canada welcomes the input of other ACTA partners to develop a more
comprehensive review of the various options available under the Agreement.

This might even lead to a permanent new institution located somewhere:

Negotiating partners may wish to consider where meetings of the Council of Parties
will be held. For example, will meetings be hosted on a rotating basis by Parties to
the Agreement, or will these be hosted permanently in one location?

Ambitious, yes. Necessary, not.

Several other documents are available here. Jamie invites one and all to judge for themselves if these documents threaten US national security.

Given the leaks we have seen, the secrecy is entirely understandable but not for “national security” reasons. It’s really all about negotiating a supra-sovereign international IP regime that no country would democratically accept, not even the USA. According to Jamie, who recently talked with US Ambassador Ron Kirk:
Kirk didn't want people “walking away from the table,” which would likely happen if the text was public, he said.
How would we as Canadians in a democratic country react to a proposal to drastically rewrite Canadian IP law wihtout tabling the various readings of the legislation, holding the committee debates in secrecy, sharing drafts only with a few lobbyists, and letting the public in only when its about to be proclaimed in force?

Not very well, I suspect.


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