USTR Insists Gov't Isn't Keeping ACTA Secret
from the up-is-down,-black-is-white,-you-said-what-now? dept
Stan McCoy, the assistant US trade rep, is apparently the new point man from the USTR office on jaw-dropping political doublespeak about ACTA. You may recall a few days back when McCoy insisted that there was a lot of misrepresentations about ACTA, but failed to clarify any of them. Instead, he started talking about the dangers associated with counterfeiting (something no one denies) and then simply wrapped copyright infringement into that — even though copyright infringement and counterfeiting are entirely different. Now, McCoy has gone even further. Jamie Love points us to a letter he sent the Financial Times, where McCoy insists that there is great openness about ACTA. He kicks off with another bogus attempt to blur the lines between counterfeiting and copyright:
Intellectual property protection is critical to jobs and exports that depend on innovation and creativity. Trade in counterfeit and pirated products undermines those jobs and exports, exposes consumers to dangerous knock-offs from toothpaste to car parts, and helps fund organised crime.
See the switcharoo in the middle there? He starts of talking about intellectual property… but then in the middle lumps counterfeiting and infringing (which he falsely calls “piracy” even though he’s not talking about what’s happening off the Somalia coast) together, and then at the end he’s really only talking about counterfeiting, but to the untrained observer, they still think he’s talking about copyright infringement. That’s political bullshitting. And I won’t even get into the evidence that raises serious questions about whether his first sentence is true at all, but will mention there’s a lot of data that suggests IP actually limits jobs and slows down innovation and creativity. But, at this point, I think McCoy has already established that the USTR is not a fact-based organization.
The ACTA negotiations are one of many international efforts to fight counterfeiting and piracy — not to “transform” already strong US and European Union copyright laws. Far from keeping them secret, governments participating in these negotiations have sought public comments, released a summary of issues under discussion, and enhanced public engagement.
Okay. Pick your jaws up off the floor. That last sentence is so ridiculous and so false; it’s amazing he thought that he could get away with it. Exactly which governments have “sought public comments” on ACTA? The answer? None. Why? Because no government has yet revealed what ACTA is officially. Hell, in the most recent ACTA negotiations, held in Mexico, the government wanted to force the public to sign NDAs just to attend a public meeting, and then had industry representatives mocking public concerns and demanding that a blogger leave the proceedings for live Tweeting the meetings. Yes, “sought public comments” indeed. Does he think that if he says day is night people just believe him? And the idea that the government is “far from keeping [ACTA] secret” is pure hogwash. A comparison of ACTA secrecy to similar negotiations suggest that ACTA is being kept exceptionally secret.
Furthermore, if the laws are already strong, then what’s the point of ACTA?
Among other things, the summary states clearly that “ACTA is not intended to interfere with a signatory’s ability to respect its citizens’ fundamental rights and civil liberties”.
Oh, well, if the summary states it, then why didn’t you say so in the first place? Obviously there’s nothing to worry about at all. Except… it doesn’t appear that the actual documents follow what the summary says. Of course, we’ve only seen the “leaked” documents, but they certainly suggest plans to interfere with fundamental rights and civil liberties on a pretty widespread basis. Supporters of ACTA even talk about “dragging countries in the 21st century” by forcing on them DMCA-type laws and requiring secondary liability that flat out violates basic fundamental rights. The fact that the “summary” says so isn’t convincing, Mr. McCoy. It just highlights that you’re hiding what the document actually says.
So, come on, Mr. McCoy. Stop treating concerned citizens like we’re idiots and maybe respond to the actual concerns of citizens around the world.