Leaked State Department Cables Confirm That ACTA Was Designed To Pressure Developing Nations
from the no-surprise-there dept
The site La Quadrature Du Net has a rather comprehensive look at a series of leaked State Department cables that confirm what many people said from the beginning about ACTA: that it was designed by US special interests as an “end run” around existing international intellectual property groups, since those groups had actually started listening to the concerns of many other nations about how overly strict intellectual property laws were stifling innovation, economic growth and were, at times, a threat to human safety. This point had been made by ACTA critics for quite some time, but now the leaked State Department cables effectively confirm it:
One of the core objectives is to circumvent international organizations in charge of “intellectual property”, where maximalist countries such as the US and the EU have been facing growing opposition from developing countries. Not just WIPO and WTO, but also the OECD: Initially, the Japanese proposed to ask the OECD for some help in drafting the agreement, but US officials suggest a different process, stressing that that they have sufficient in-house expertise, and insist on avoiding any collaboration with international organizations
The full cable on this matter makes it clear that the US had a big plan and that plan involved bringing together only “like-minded” countries, and Japan was gleeful about this, but had originally expected the OECD would help.
From there, the plans become even clearer. The idea is to first do all of this with those “like-minded” (i.e., protectionist) countries, and then use the agreement to try to pressure those developing nations and other nations concerned about the expansive problems of intellectual property law into “joining.” In other words, stack the deck first with those who benefit most, and then use international pressure to force the agreement on those who aren’t comfortable with the end result of such laws.
The cables show that ACTA — although negotiated between “like-minded countries” — is ultimately meant to be imposed on developing countries. Early on, the US and Japan deem necessary to recruit developing countries so as to ensure the “legitimacy” of the agreement. Jordan and Morocco are the first to be mentioned, given their acceptance of tough copyright, trademark and patents provisions in bilateral free trade agreements recently concluded with the US.
However, one key concern for the negotiators is that ACTA might appear for what it is — that is to say an agreement drafted by rich countries to be imposed on the developing world. Mexican officials are especially keen on helping out on this front. During a meeting with US counterparts, Mexicans stress “their willingness to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations and push-back against Brazilian efforts to undermine IPR in international health organizations,” according to the US account of the meeting. Brazil’s push for progressive policies on the international arena is denounced by Mexican officials, who offer to play the “good cops” by acting alongside the US to push for maximal patent and copyright standards at the global level.
Mexico selling out to US interests over its own people — how nice. In fact, in one of the cables, Japan explicitly states that the purpose of ACTA is to impose rules on China, Russia and Brazil.
Oh yeah, remember all those claims from US officials about how ACTA was just an agreement to align “enforcement” techniques and really had nothing (nothing!) to do with changing laws? Yeah, turns out they were lying. In discussing the early plans for ACTA, US officials indicated to Japanese officials that the US was perfectly happy to change its laws to greater protectionism around copyright and patents:
He added that Congress has welcomed the opportunity to engage on these issues, changing laws where necessary. Moore stressed that the United States is keen to move forward quickly, but with an effective, high-standard agreement. As we work together to reach out to other like-minded countries, he said, it will be essential for Japan to consider seriously improvements to its enforcement regime.
Again, almost nothing in these cables is new or a surprise. But it does confirm what many ACTA critics had said early on, and prove that US official statements on ACTA were clearly inaccurate at best, and deliberately misleading at worst.