USTR Says Congress Won't Be Restricted By ACTA

from the yeah,-right dept

Responding to a series of questions that Senator Ron Wyden asked, Ron Kirk, the US Trade Representative, and the Obama administration apparently believe that Congress and the courts will not be constrained in any way by ACTA. This is a bit odd, since the last draft of the agreement conflicts with US law in some places, and most certainly appears to state that countries agreeing to ACTA need to follow certain laws that would block Congress' ability to change copyright laws in various ways. Of course, what's really going on here is a sneaky political game. Since the administration wants to call this an "executive agreement," rather than a treaty (so that it doesn't need Senate approval), they have to claim that it won't really impact US laws. Yet... you can be absolutely positive that if Congress moved to change a law in any way that conflicted with ACTA, we'd be hearing speeches and reading stories about how we're not living up to our "international obligations," such as those found in ACTA. It's a really cynical political move by the administration.

Filed Under: acta, congress, ustr

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  1. icon
    James Love (profile), 21 Apr 2011 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Hmmm...

    I don't recall saying that ACTA would be legally binding on a future Congress, if it is not considered a legally binding agreement. Getting USTR to say, on the record, that they don't consider ACTA a legally binding norm, as regards future legislation, is helpful. Certainly other countries have a different understanding, and that is why Kirk's statement may be significant. As regards current laws, we have identified a number of US statutes that are not in compliance with the ACTA provisions on injunctions and damages. About 90 percent of the objections we raised in Spring of 2010 were actually fixed from August to November of 2010. But some remaining inconsistencies exist. You could read the letter we sent to the Library of Congress (, and react to the actual examples, before dismissing this. (We have been pretty specific). Will the US actually change these laws? Probably not. What exactly does that mean? That ACTA has an understanding of "implied exceptions," as has been informally claimed by USTR? That ACTA is not actually enforceable? That ACTA was only intended as a stick to be used against developing countries, but never domestically? All of the above?

    But in terms of future legislation, you sould pay a lot of attention to the Orphan works issue. ACTA norms are in direct conflict with the damages section of the orphan works bill that earlier passed the Senate.( And, the ACTA norms are now included in the US proposal for the IPR chapter of the TPP trade agreement, that will have dispute resolution procedures.

    Overall, you might also ask why USTR won't release the CSR report on ACTA.

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