This Saturday in Tokyo, according to reports, New Zealand will sign a controversial trade agreement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (otherwise known as ACTA) targeting counterfeiters and copyright infringers.
The big questions are what are we signing up to? Will it mean we have to change our laws? And why hasn’t government informed the community of its contents and that we were going to sign it until 2 days before it happens?
A media release issued this afternoon by the government says this:
Cabinet has formally approved New Zealand’s signature of ACTA. As is normal practice with international treaties, a separate decision to ratify ACTA will be made subsequently, the Minister said. This would require the Government to make some minor amendments to the Copyright Act 1994 and the Trade Marks Act 2002 and would be subject to the usual ratification process, including public consultation and scrutiny by Parliament.
What minor amendments? What will change?
I have written many posts about ACTA. Here and here. Calling for transparency. That did seem to happen for a while. But now it appears we are moving to sign it. Where has been the public discussion on where the agreement is at?
Will signing ACTA result in New Zealand being required to include a disconnection from the internet clause in our copyright laws? This is despite repeated denials from Commerce Minister Simon Power. And make it extremely difficult to remove. And what else will it require?
Will ACTA will foreclose future legislative improvements in response to changes in technology or policy. Read this post and worry.
Representatives of the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, the E.U., South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland will be at the signing ceremony for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Countries that have “completed relevant domestic processes” will sign ACTA, the ministry said in a press release. The agreement, which would create international standards for protecting intellectual property, will be open for signature until May 1, 2013, the ministry said.
Public Knowledge, a digital rights group, said the latest version of ACTA contains more protections for consumers than previous versions. Still, the group urged U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration to “make it clear” that ACTA does not change U.S. law, including provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protecting ISPs and websites from copyright enforcement.
I’ve still got significant concerns.
- Agreements negotiated in secret don’t make for good law or public policy
- ACTA contravenes a number of fundamental rights
- The major parties in ACTA (US and Europe) still don’t agree about whether their laws might need to change, even though provisions in it are incompatible with existing laws
I’d like to hear from our Trade Minister on these issues. And from our Commerce Minister on the domestic implications for Kiwis and our own intellectual property. In the meantime, until we know what the implications are NZ shouldn’t sign up to it.