Senator Wyden Asks Congressional Research Service To Determine If ACTA Impacts US Law

from the good-for-him dept

While we've seen a lot of political pressure in Europe and Mexico where elected officials are quite concerned about ACTA, for the most part, US politicians have been blissfully touting the bogus line that "ACTA is about protecting our most important industries," without bothering to pay attention to the details. However, late Friday, Senator Ron Wyden stepped up and expressed his concerns about ACTA, and has asked the Congressional Research Service to review the document to ensure that it does not, in fact, create legal problems in the US:
For nearly two and a half years, the United States has been in negotiations over an international agreement about how intellectual property rights will be enforced. This agreement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), is nearly finalized and is an "executive agreement" that does not currently appear to require Congress' ratification because it is not intended to impact U.S. law. However, some experts outide of government are raising concerns that the ACTA text is contrary to U.S. law and its application or would present a barrier to changes in U.S. law in the area of reform to damages for patents, or access to orphaned copyrighted works.

I ask that the American Law Division review the current text of ACTA, which is enclosed and available at www.ustr.gov, in order to provide Congress a written, independent determination of whether the commitments put forward in the agreement diverge from our domestic law or would impeded legislative efforts that are currently underway. I ask the Division pay particular attention to the provisions relating to injunctions, damages, and intermediary liability.
It's good that he doesn't just focus on specific changes to US law, but on how ACTA might impede important reforms to US law on patent and copyright issues in the future. I do wonder, of course, what would happen if the research does show problems with ACTA...

Filed Under: acta, copyright, ron wyden, us laws


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  1. identicon
    Alex Bowles, 11 Oct 2010 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Question

    That's what's so awesome about Wyden's approach. He gets this, and sees it as a problem.

    Indeed, he seems to recognize that flexibility itself is a fundamental component of IP law. He's realizing that even if the ACTA treaty doesn't conflict with any current laws (unlikely, but work with me here), it can *still* be in conflict with the law (and thus, ineligible for the Executive Agreement status used to evade Congressional oversight) if it destroys the law's essential adaptability.

    This "freeze the law by signing a treaty" strategy is the exact same tack that's been used by the Drug Warriors to such catastrophic effect. A bit part of the reason that the Feds are stuck enforcing the current drug laws is that they've been woven into all sorts of international treaties that prohibit any of the signatories from making any internal change.

    Prior to the Internet (and its ability to foster international cooperation) this effectively ended democratic process, since it progress demanded coordinated effort between a majority of voters in every single participating nation to undo the damage.

    This is still a major hurdle, but is now surmountable in theory. Two decades ago, that wasn't even imaginable. A decade or so from now, it may be a practical reality.

    God bless the Internet.

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