ACRL, ALA, ARL, and other organizations have sent a letter about the secret ACTA negotiations to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk.
Here's an excerpt:
This recent leak of a full [ACTA] text heightens our concern that this negotiation is not primarily about counterfeiting or piracy; nor is at all about trade law. The public rationale that the treaty would not impinge on domestic law has been placed in doubt—particularly when one considers whose domestic law would be endangered. As Google executives have recently experienced, it is not only U.S. domestic law that has consequences for U.S. technologists and service providers. Similarly, domestic interests in other participating countries should consider themselves at risk from provisions that are novel or antithetical to their national law.
The leaked text reveals detailed substantive attention to core principles of any nation’s intellectual property law:
- Whether copyright plaintiffs may or shall have the option of receiving pre-established damage awards that have little or no relation to any harm that has been suffered.
- The extent to which principles of inducement, newly introduced by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grokster case, are to be accepted as supporting a separate basis for copyright liability or are a gloss on existing principles of contributory and vicarious infringement. This is not yet clear even in the United States.
- The export of secondary liability principles to ACTA countries without simultaneously including the limitations and exceptions contained both in U.S. statutory law (e.g., fair use) and in the significant court decisions limiting secondary liability (e.g., Sony).
- How technological measure anti-circumvention provisions are to be interpreted and applied, whether they will apply to access to works, whether they are to be limited to circumventions for infringing purposes, and whether account will be taken of the variations in national law, practice, and context, such as U.S. adherence to fair use and the imposition of levies under other national law.
- The extent to which a "three strikes" approach and express or implied "filtering" mandates are to be imposed on ISPs.
U.S. negotiators have assured the Congress and the public that they cannot and will not agree to any provision that is contrary to domestic law. Other national negotiators have likely given similar assurances at home, publicly or privately. Hence the annotated documents appear rife with linguistic tugs and footnotes. To the extent compromise is achieved through ambiguity, no national of any participant nation will have assurance that domestic law will not be affected.
The time for public discussion as to exactly what this document will and won’t do is now.