Australia’s Last Chance to Defeat ACTA

This article has been published at the ABC.

Today we saw thousands take to the streets in Poland in what has become an ongoing protest, the European Parliament’s rapporteur of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement resign in disgust at the ACTA charade, the exclusionary and opaque process. We also saw the passing of what is possibly the last opportunity for Australians to stop the ACTA agreement cementing the expansive changes to laws in Australia imposed via the Australian United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).

There is some debate as to whether there will be any substantive change for Australia, i.e. are we going to have to change our laws? It certainly cements the already draconian laws we have, providing an environment for stricter enforcement and for an expansion of an already bad system, but that is not the biggest issue with ACTA.

The biggest issue is the secrecy in which the agreement was forged. The exclusion of civil society, consumer and civil liberties groups in formative stages, where a belligerent industry intent on disingenuously conflating issues like file sharing with counterfeiting were given open and unfettered access.

ACTA is an example of legislative negligence and a total disregard for evidence in policy making in Australia. Despite the Productivity Commission proclaiming that Australia should be seeking to exclude IP from bilateral and regional trade negotiations because of the obviously damaging changes to Australian law imposed by the AUSFTA, here is DFAT negotiating an agreement that entrenches those bad laws, just as it continues to include those bad laws in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). When queried, there is no study or economic assessment that supports the expansion or stricter enforcement of copyright and patents in Australia, except of course for untrustworthy industry research, manufactured to elicit legislative change by deception.

These sentiments, and others, were expressed in the Pirate Party’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. Although the due date has passed, Committee Secretaries are usually more than willing to accept late submissions. Make noise.

 

Props should go to @OlbrychtPalmer, @piecritic and @akfru for their work in the submission.

23 comments

  1. Ben Huxham

    I’m not sure who to approach to register my disagreement with this policy other than a general solicitation. Can anyone point me to a more precise action to take?

    I like this blokes idea of directed action. http://maddox.xmission.com/
    Direct angst at 1 or 2 companies supporting the principles of ACTA (guilty till proven innocent) but I’m no organiser. Help?

    • Roderick

      @Ben

      To be honest I’m not sure. Europe has erupted following the Polish protests with events organised in the Czech Republic, France, Scotland, Belgium, Sweden amongst others: http://pad.telecomix.org/acta-protests

      I like Maddox’s approach – protests should, if possible, affect meaningful change. The problem for us in Australia? We still aren’t really sure who supported it. We can guess, but DFAT continues to withhold all submissions made to it regarding the treaty.

      In terms of stopping the treaty, or at least influencing the committees report and giving Europe’s MPs a reason to reject the treaty, perhaps target the members of the Treaties Committee: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jsct/members.htm

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  4. Johnny Software

    We can, we have to and we’re going to eliminate ACTA. Everyone needs to get engaged and if you’ve got a wordpress blog, operate a webpage or are a participant of a community forum, you need to allow your customers or similar readers understand what is happening. These laws have not been made to help safeguard us or to preserve copyright but to de-activate any web site which they decide to close down.

  5. Dagny Brandes

    Website owners all over the globe will have to speak out against these new regulations on our net liberties. After these policies are enacted, our way of life will never be the same again.

  6. Marlon S. Medina

    Even if a country is not party to the ACTA negotiations, it is likely that accession to and implementation of its provisions by countries will be a condition imposed in future free trade agreements and the subject of evaluation in content industry submissions to the annual Special 301 Report. Ultimately, it will restrict nations’ ability to choose policy options that best suit their domestic priorities and level of economic development.

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