ACTA – Policy laundering IP
Public Knowledge, the DC public interest group, has a very informative discussion of ACTA – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA is an international trade agreement now being worked out behind closed doors, outside of the relatively open framework of the the World Intellectual Property Organization. It is a so-called “executive agreement,” rather than a treaty, meaning that it would not require approval from Congress.
Public Knowledge calls it an example of “policy laundering.” That is a great phrase I had not heard before. Industry wants to set policies that are friendly to them without having to deal with transparency and comments from observers who represent the public interest, so they “outsource” the policy making to closed-off venues that come up with international agreements that have the force of law with little or no public input. (This, rather than globalization, is the problem with the WTO, for many people.)
A discussion paper was leaked from the ACTA proceedings that reveals that its priorities are essentially an industry wish list: limiting fair use, enhancing the ability of drug companies to charge high prices, and monitoring internet communication. A lot is being stuffed into the basket labeled “counterfeit” for policy laundering purposes.
Public Knowledge is lobbying the USTR to make the draft text of ACTA available to observers. I think the ALA Washington Office ought to act on this as well.