Newly Revealed Negotiating Documents Show How US Companies Had Excessive Input On ACTA

from the eu-commission-failure dept

The folks at EDRI and Access were able to get their hands on four "meeting notes" from the European Commission ACTA negotiators, concerning what happened at various meetings. This is especially important as the EU gets closer to an actual vote on ACTA. There are a number of issues raised by these documents, and the folks at TorrentFreak have covered many of the issues from an EU perspective. However, one thing that struck me about the documents was how much input US companies got in the process, compared to stakeholders elsewhere. We already know that the USTR spends an inordinate amount of time listening to Hollywood and taking its word as gospel, but as these documents reveal, the EU and other negotiating partners were unable to balance that by sharing the documents with other stakeholders.

Specifically, the US repeatedly told negotiators that it was sharing ACTA documents with industry representatives using non-disclosure agreements -- while the EU negotiators repeatedly complained that there was no legal way for it to share the documents with anyone. In the end, the EU meekly appears to have given up on this point. What this means, of course, is that the US -- and its close connections with entertainment industry special interests -- were able to have significantly more say in matters concerning ACTA. While there was no guarantee that the EU would have briefed public interest stakeholders, there definitely appeared to be at least some concern that such folks were not heard from -- but no real effort to fight for such.

Also, while it's not a surprise that the US wrote "the internet chapter" of ACTA, it is rather enlightening to have it confirmed that it was also the US who pushed so strong for a three strikes disconnection policy (something that negotiators had, at one point, denied was being discussed -- only to be revealed they were lying when various texts were leaked). This, despite the fact that the US requires no such three strikes regime. So all the talk of how there was no intention to use ACTA to change US law? Yeah, that's a lie.

Separately, there's a discussion about how the US's initial text for the internet/digital section was so "confusing" that "several ACTA parties off-the-record said that they would wait for a EU text to "balance" the US one." This is not a surprise again. Entertainment industry lobbyists -- who, again, had full access to the texts and the ready ear of USTR negotiators (go ahead, connect the dots) -- know quite well how to write completely confounding legislation, where the real purposes are hidden in the complex and confusing language. That initial "confusing and complex" draft from the USTR wasn't because they don't know how to be clear. It's a way to hide little time bombs that the entertainment industry plans to explode at later dates -- just as they did with the ProIP bill, and the bizarrely ridiculous interpretation that the clause on seizing CD and DVD burners really meant seizing websites as well...

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    fb39ca4, 29 May 2012 @ 3:03pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2012 @ 3:18pm

    while the US wants everyone else to abide by their laws, ignoring their own in the process, have no say at all in the way any 'treaties' are drawn up, no keeping of human rights, no discussions with 'interested parties' outside the US and no way to change anything, the US wants to be able to do what it wants, when it wants, where it wants, with whomever it wants. not a bad way to treat all those that are supposed to be on the same side, eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 29 May 2012 @ 3:52pm

    Just Who Is Minding The Store Here?

    Is the U.S. still governed under it's constitution or, behind the curtain, does the MPAA/RIAA now govern?

    It's a question I can't answer anymore.

    It certainly seems that the inmates have taken control of the asylum judging from SOPA/PIPA and now ACTA/TPP.

    It seems the USTR needs to be renamed HollywoodTR. Either that or there is truly no point in taking part in the American elections this fall as it doesn't matter who wins because we have now discovered who is really in charge.

    I pray I'm proved wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2012 @ 3:54pm

    "So all the talk of how there was no intention to use ACTA to change US law? Yeah, that's a lie."

    You say that like you're surprised...

    How do you know if a politician (or lobbyist) is lying?
    Their lips are moving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2012 @ 4:04pm

    The most embarrassing thing in these texts is how embarrassed US was for having leaked a document and how angry they became when EU leaked later. Those things are truely disgusting.
    Especially with the repeated mentioning of the US having their own "stakeholders" help draft the starting-point.

    There are 3 fundamental problems for EU with ACTA:

    1) The wording is incredibly unprecise all over the place, leaving a lot of the legal situation uncertain before the courts set a precedent. That is not exactly easy to defend and even thinking about fast-tracking ACTA through the parliament was a death-sin for that reason. A "wait for the court"-argument died the moment ACTA got fast-tracked.

    2) Damages, as described in ACTA, will change a lot of european laws even though it is claimed otherwise. Sweden is the only place where they have actually looked at it and they found it necessary to change the law. ACTA is definately specifically opposed to a recent high court ruling in Denmark... Denmark has only agreed to ACTA if it did not even get close to touch the laws. Even if ACTA passed the parliament it would be almost impossible to defend the damages demands given the premise of no law-changes.

    3) 3rd part liability and sharing of information between private parties and law enforcement is more than problematic to begin with.
    No safeguards means that they have not sufficiently considered the specific implications of what they agreed on!
    This can be covered by lies or halftrueths to a certain extend, but it would not exactly be a good argument for other countries considering joining when the trueth will surface. That is killing the long term plan for ACTA since it is virtually impossible to change anything in the agreement after it has been signed because of a weak commitee and all agree or nothing from the negotiating parties.

    ACTA is getting completely nuked in Netherlands where a unanimous parliament has condemned the signing AND agreed that they will never aree on any future agreement with issues relating to free speach ao.

    ACTA should be completely dead and anyone uttering a positive word about what went on should look at themself and think about moving to Morroco.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2012 @ 9:43pm

    Translation: "Newly Revealed Negotiating Documents Show[s]" what we already knew.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 30 May 2012 @ 4:42am

    And China watches from the side lines clapping with enthusiasm at the US efforts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The eejit (profile), 30 May 2012 @ 4:45am


      Yup. Because the US is showing itself to be far worse when it comes to dominionism - it wants to export its laws all voer, but never seems to want to follow them when others call it out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 May 2012 @ 5:51pm

    The first rule of ACTA is don't talk about ACTA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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