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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  1. identicon
    MrWilson, 29 May 2012 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Or to put it another way: corporations don't feel it necessary to follow any laws they didn't write themselves and have their paid representatives in Congress push through.

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