(6 Nov. 2009)  Talks are heating up again on the controversial proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) with key  negotiations taking place this week in Seoul, South Korea.  ACTA would set a new international legal standard for intellectual property rights and their enforcement, essentially replacing the WTO TRIPS Agreement and several treaties undertaken by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  ACTA seeks to expand at a global level copyright and other intellectual property rights and to create new enforcement measures, such as requiring third-party liability and focusing on the Internet and border searches.  Another leaked treaty document, this time from the European Union, reveals the treaty is indeed taking a very radical approach (see IP Watch report).

ACTA has faced growing criticism in recent months because the global policy negotiations lack transparency from the public, while certain large companies have been provided with privileged access to the negotiation texts by US trade officials.  IP Justice has teamed up with several other international IPR law and policy organizations in an attempt to create openness and transparency in the ACTA Treaty process.   Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) has organized an open petition to the US Obama Administration to criticize the USTR practice of requiring Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) of those allowed to see treaty proposals.  IP Justice also signed a letter from Public Knowledge to US President Obama this week to call for an end to the secrecy in the ACTA negotiations.  

As the public begins to learn more about the Obama Administration’s attempt to cloak the secrecy of its information policy positions behind flimsy claims of "national security", the USTR should amend its secretive practices to reflect the democratic values it claims to represent.