Group Of Prominent Law Professors Urge President Obama To Halt ACTA Endorsement
from the probably-too-late dept
A group of rather prominent law professors have sent an open letter to their former law professor colleague, now President, Barack Obama, asking him to “halt [his administration’s] public endorsement of ACTA and subject the text to a meaningful participation process that can influence the shape of the agreement going forward.” There’s lots of good stuff in the letter, though I doubt it will make much of a difference. It highlights how the whole process left the public out of the discussions, contrary to Obama’s promises. Furthermore, it explains why the agreement should be subjected to Congressional scrutiny, rather than just being signed as an “executive agreement,” noting that, beyond the parts of ACTA that appear to conflict with US law, the President is not supposed to have authority over intellectual property issues:
The use of a sole executive agreement for ACTA appears unconstitutional. The President may only make sole executive agreements that are within his independent constitutional authority. The President has no independent constitutional authority over intellectual property or communications policy, the core subjects of ACTA. To the contrary, the Constitution gives primary authority over these matters to Congress, which is charged with making laws that regulate foreign commerce and intellectual property. ACTA should not be pursued further without congressional oversight and a meaningful opportunity for public debate.
The letter also points out that, beyond just the secrecy, the entire concept of ACTA is being “deliberately misrepresented to the American people.”
The treaty is named the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”. But it has little to do with counterfeiting or controlling the international trade in counterfeit goods. Rather, this agreement would enact much more encompassing changes in the international rules governing trade in a wide variety of knowledge goods — whether they are counterfeit or not — and would establish new intellectual property rules and norms without systematic inquiry into effects of such development on process of economic and technical innovation in the U.S. or abroad. These norms will affect virtually every American and should be the subject of wide public debate.
Chances of this letter having much of an effect are slim, but it certainly does highlight the growing concerns that ACTA has serious problems among folks who actually understand this stuff .