Stop the FTAA Information Lockdown

Democracy is yet another casualty in the FTAA Treaty process
Original image courtesy Andre Hasch

Participate: Send Comments to the FTAA

The FTAA Trade Ministerial has established an executive committee to receive input on the FTAA Treaty process. The Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society published and open invitation soliciting input from civil society on the FTAA Treaty. The invitation to participate and submit comments was subsequently renewed and remains open through the remainder of the negotiating process.

Public comments are an important part of the process. Comments received will be translated and distributed to relevant FTAA entities including trade ministers and negotiators. A large number of public comments may inspire change during the negotiating process. Please see noteworthy sample comments submitted at the bottom of this page. (complete list)

The FTAA Trade Ministerial has issued its own guidelines on how to submit official comments:

  1. E-mail is the preferred means of contact. Send comments to
  2. Identify yourself with your name and physical address. This is required for your comment to be accepted.
  3. Write in English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese. Only write in one language; your comment will be translated if needed.
  4. Be polite, direct, and only discuss matters directly relevant to the FTAA negotiations. Only topics directly related to the FTAA agreement will be considered. Be as specific as possible.
  5. Your comment must include the cover sheet provided by the FTAA in order to be considered.
  6. Comments must be received before May 1, 2004

You should also send your comments directly to the trade representatives in your country. FTAA has a list of each country’s contact points here.

Send a copy of your comments to IP Justice for publication and to assist others in preparing their own comments.

Here is a sample comment that you may use as a model:

1 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345

1 November 2003

To Whom it May Concern:

My name is John Doe and I am a professional musician in the United States. I make my living writing, recording, and performing music.

I am very concerned by the Second Draft Agreement of the FTAA. The Chapter on Intellectual Property Rights should be deleted in its entirety. The draft IP Chapter extends copyright too far, restrains trade and competition, stifles innovation, limits Personal Use and Fair Use, and threatens privacy.

I oppose granting copyright for 70 years after the death of the author of a creative work. This will stifle creativity in my field and hurt consumers. While some form of copyright protection is necessary, 70 years beyond the death of the author will not spur additional creativity and it will limit the ability of future generations to innovate.

… continued analysis and commentary on other provisions – see the Top 10 list for some sample reasons …

The IP Chapter should be deleted from the draft FTAA agreement before these harmful provisions can take effect.

Thank you very much for your time.


John Doe
Professional Musician
United States of America

Again, be sure to include the cover sheet in your correspondence.

Noteworthy Comments Submitted by Civil Society

“We therefore believe that the copyright chapter of the draft agreement should be deleted from the FTAA in its entirety.”
ALA / ARL / SLA / AALL (Librarians, including the American Library Association)

” The treaty should guarantee that every country provides minimum rights to the public to use materials, including for fair use.”
Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech)

“The anti-circumvention provisions of the draft FTAA treaty… unjustly harm the freedom of computer scientists to engage in research fundamental to the progress of innovation.”
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

“This would violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech under the First Amendment, and similar guarantees in other national constitutions and laws and in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, since such tools are necessary to exercise lawful uses, including fair use, reverse engineering, computer security research and many others.”
Tom Trotter, Canada


[the] FTAA will annul the achievements of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and could have devastating consequences in terms of access to medicines for millions of people in middle- and low-income countries in the Americas with HIV/AIDS and other neglected diseases. For them, this is a matter of life and death. “
Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontierès

“… we are deeply concerned about the draft FTAA’s provisions on intellectual property and their implications for people in the hemisphere obtaining access to essential medicines.”
Essential Action

” … the overly-broad provisions impede the progress of research in cryptography and other computer security areas by criminalizing multi-use technologies rather than narrowly penalizing infringing behavior.”
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) , letter to USTR

“…among the various formulations in the Draft Text there are a number of other provisions that might significantly expand rights now available to rights holders or restrict privileges now available to consumers under U.S. copyright law
Computer & Communications Industry Association (hosted by IP Justice)

“The Library Associations call upon the USTR to ensure that governmental support for core library services does not become subject to disciplines under the services chapter of the FTAA…”
ALA, ARL, AALL, MLA and SLA Supplemental Comments