ACTA negotiations resume; ALA remains concerned

UPDATE:
With the conclusion of this week’s discussions, the negotiating partners released a statement expressing their commitment to release a draft text of ACTA by April 21. The statement characterizes this week’s negotiations as “good progress” and announces the next round of negotiations will take place in Switzerland in June. The statement also touches on some substantive provisions of the draft text, as does the USTR’s statement on the negotiations

The ALA applauds the move to release the draft ACTA text. Public release of the complete and current draft of ACTA will allow the ALA, other civil society groups and the public to analyze and debate its provisions.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED: 10:55 a.m., April 15

ALA continues to monitor negotiations on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as the parties meet this week in Wellington, New Zealand.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which is negotiating ACTA on behalf of the U.S. government, has refused to release publicly the proposed agreement’s text. However, leaked texts reveal proposals that are not limited to trade or anti-counterfeiting, including changes to copyright policy that could negatively impact libraries and users. ALA has previously expressed its concerns with ACTA’s proposals and lack of transparency.

The agenda for this week’s negotiations includes transparency among the topics. Additionally, USTR released a statement expressing hope that negotiators can “reach a consensus on sharing a meaningful text with the public,” but stopped short of a commitment to full transparency of the negotiating texts.

ALA’s concerns with ACTA are echoed by civil society groups worldwide. For example, a public conference in Wellington debated ACTA in advance of the negotiations. The PublicACTA conference, organized independently by InternetNZ, culminated in a statement to negotiators calling for transparency and balance.

In addition, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), of which ALA is member, recently voiced concern about ACTA. The IFLA position states, “IFLA is deeply troubled by reports emerging from the ongoing negotiations surrounding ACTA. These reports suggest that ACTA’s objectives and methods endanger the balance of copyright, and seriously conflict with the library community’s commitments to equitable access to information and cultural expression.”

ALA will continue to monitor the ACTA negotiations to ensure that the rights of libraries and users are represented and preserved.

Gavin Baker
Consultant, OITP

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