Transparency of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

Transparency of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
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The letter below reports the views of several groups and individuals concerning the lack of transparency of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). This is something that is so obvious, it should not require comment, on a policy that is completely indefensible.

The. U.S. and 39 or more countries are negotiating a new global agreement on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and everything so far is secret from the general public. The main topics are civil and criminal rules, such as injunctions, damages and third party liability from infringements, searches of Internet transactions, border measures affecting the import or export of various consumer goods from medicines to cell phones, and a host of other issues. All 40+ countries in the negotiation have access to the proposed text. And, there are processes for just about any corporate lobbyist with ties to the Administration to see proposed texts, if they sign tough legally binding non-disclosure agreements. So why is it secret from the public?

I recently asked the Chamber of Commerce if they would work with us to make the process more transparent. They have all sorts of members with different interests, including small businesses. But the Chamber lobbyist were pretty firm -- it is important to them that the negotiations remain secret. In the end, this is who is calling the shots. The Administration is bowing to demands from a handful of corporations to keep the public in the dark.

James Love

-------- Forwarded Message --------

November 3, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to express our concerns about the lack of transparency
and openness surrounding the negotiations on a new Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement (ACTA). Despite its name, the ACTA is designed as a
trade agreement that will cover a wide range of intellectual property
enforcement issues, including norms for both governments and civil
litigation, as well as criminal sanctions. While we agree that the
enforcement of intellectual property rights is very important, it is
also a complex area where the "solutions" to the enforcement issues are
often controversial, and it is important to balance a variety of
competing interests, and to ensure that measures to enforce private
intellectual property rights do not undermine civil rights and privacy,
or unduly impede innovation.

Unlike nearly all other multilateral and plurilateral discussions about
intellectual property norms, the ACTA negotiations have been held in
deep secrecy. This has led to a chorus of criticism, and demands that
the ACTA process be opened up, and that documents in ACTA negotiations
be disclosed, as they are routinely in intellectual property
negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or
the World Trade Organization (WTO).

After a year of criticism over the secrecy of this negotiation, the
White House United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently began a
policy of offering some persons access to documents in this negotiation,
on the condition that they sign a non disclosure agreement (NDA) that
prevents any public discussion of the contents of those documents. The
opportunity to see the ACTA documents under the NDA was offered to a
large number of business interests, but very few public interest or
consumer groups, and there were no opportunities for academic experts or
the general public to review the documents.

USTR officials have indicated that this policy of access by invitation
and NDA fully addresses the legitimate demands for more transparency of
the negotiation, and it is being considered as a model for the future.

We are opposed to this approach because it creates a small special class
of citizens who have rights superior to the majority of the population,
and because it gives the government too much discretion in deciding who
can monitor and criticize its operations. We have no confidence in this
new approach.

Some of the people who have signed such NDAs are grateful for
the chance to have had special access to some information, but they also
feel constrained by the inability to discuss the contents of the
documents, and are confident that nothing they have seen constitutes
information that in any way would prejudice the national security of the
United States if it were in fact disclosed.

In our opinion, the ACTA negotiations would not exist without the
support and engagement of the U.S. government, and they are too
important to continue under such questionable practices.

The only rationale for keeping the proposed ACTA text from the public is
to suppress criticism and critical thinking about the norms that are
being proposed. It is Orwellian and an insult to our intelligence to
claim that the secrecy of the ACTA text has anything to do with national
security concerns, as the term is commonly understood.

A secret process of arbitrary access, conditioned upon signing
non-disclosure agreements to block public debate, does not enhance
openness and transparency, and does not inspire respect for the norms
that will eventually emerge.

We ask that when documents such as proposals for ACTA text are
circulated to all governments in the negotiations, and when those
documents are shared with dozens of Washington, DC insiders, they also
be shared with everyone else.

cc: USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, Stan McCoy, Tim Reif
Department of Commerce, Secretary Gary Locke, David Kappos, Arti Rai,
Susan Wilson
Department of State, Hillary Clinton, Jean Bonilla
White House, Andrew McLaughlin, Susan Crawford, Vivek Kundra, Beth
Noveck, Robynn Sturm, Tom Kalil, Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra
Senators Patrick Leahy, Max Baucus, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown, Bernie
Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, Charles Rangel, Sander Levin
Department of Justice


US signatories

Knowledge Ecology International
David Bollier,
Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG
Public Citizen
Essential Action
Electronic Frontier Foundation
IP Justice
Health Action International (HAI) Global
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
James Boyle, Professor, Duke Law School (Institution for Identification
Ellen Miller, Sunlight Foundation
Brook Baker, Health GAP and Northeastern University School of Law
Kevin Outterson, Associate Professor of Law & Co-Director of the Health
Law Program, Boston University
Peter Suber, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
Laura DeNardis, Executive Director, Yale Information Society Project
Amy Kapczynski, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley Law School
Purposes Only)
Students for Free Culture
Entertainment Consumers Association
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V
Nuria Homedes, Salud y Farmacos
Wouter Tebbens, Free Knowledge Institute
David S. Levine, Assistant Professor, Elon University School of Law
Holly Jarman, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, SUNY
Katherine J. Strandburg, Professor of Law, New York University
Garin Fons, Open Michigan Initiative, University of Michigan
Adam Clark Estes, Director of Citizen Journalism, Huffington Post
Investigative Fund
Andrew Norton, Former head of both the US Pirate Party and Pirate Party
Chris Nuckols, Pirate Party, WA
Josh Casiano, Founder, Southwestern University Students for Free Culture
Elizabeth Stark, Fellow and Lecturer, Yale University
Ron Winograd, IL
Andrew Barthel, Yale University
Thomas Gideon, Host and Producer of The Command Line Podcast
Alec Stefansky, Brewer, Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz, CA
Michael S Hazen, Actor, Writer, Technologist, Software developer, WA
Chris Hankin, MD
Mark Schumann, CA
Daniel Gilbert, CA
Mike Spitalieri, Clifton, NJ
William C Waggoner, Bethel, CT
Dan Devine, Software Developer, Cequint Incorporated, Seattle, WA
Meredith Schmitt, Attorney, IL
Bruce Ediger, Denver, CO
Mike Margulies, CA
Phillip Mocek, Seattle, WA
John K. Dahlman, Musician & Photographer, Parkville, MD
Arthur Barstad, Portland, OR
Bryan Colley, MO
Keaton Stagaman, Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University
of Oregon, OR
Joshua Zelinsky, MA
Shawn Anderson, DE
Mike Marone, Portland, OR
Steven Brudenell, Software Developer, Auton Lab
Sean Murphy, Portland, OR
Kim Pallister, OR
Christopher Sanders, St. Louis, MO
Aaron Howard, Technology Consultant, OH
Quinn Dombrowski, Chicago, IL
Rebecca Egipto, San Diego, CA
Alex Thorp, Southlake, TX
Ted Wright, MO
Catherine Blanchard, Princeton, NJ
Jaclyn Duehr, IL
Sam Blanchard, Princeton, NJ
Sean Moriva, WI
Pete Perfetti, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael Hyde, NY
Gabriel J. Michael, George Washington University
Chris Heightchew, IL
John and Tama Davies, Lawrence, KS
Kevin J. Burgam, Norton Shores, MI
Tim Heatwole, Baltimore, MD
William Carter, NC
Brian Rowe, Freedom for IP
Jared Gray
Stephen Ferrari, Boston, MA
William G Mason, Cedar Rapids, IA
Eric Brown, PA
Randy Bush, Computer Scientist, Bainbridge Island, WA
Aaron Larson, Dayton, OH
Howard Bales, Portland, OR
James E. Van Cleave, Army signal corps veteran and 22 year broadcast
engineer Great Falls, MT
Rob Toyias, CA
Clyde Wright, Sunnyvale, CA
Dave Brunker
Ted Snyder, Madison, WI
Daniel Croft, Security Consultant, Portland, OR
Michael Hasse, WA
Stephen Hill, Lawrence, KS
Doug Dingus, Forest Grove, OR
Steve Chambers, Austin, TX
Richard Harding, Tecnologist, Beverly, MA
Nate Hitchcock, Artist and Curator, IL
David Quist, Albany, NY
Bryan Faubus, NC
Mitchell Wagner, IN
Charles G. Waugh, Professional Artist, Portland, OR
Bobby Martin, President, Arlington, TX
Justin Talbot, Graduate student, Rochester Institute of Technology
Owen Pierce, MI
Francesco Pierfederici, MA
Greg Bryant, KS
Carolyn Sortor, Dallas, TX
James O'Keefe, MA
Bruce Spragg, Columbus, Ohio
Cushing Whitney, President, BitLathe LLC
Jonathan Lipkin, Professor of Digital Media, Ramapo College of New
Christopher Hord, Henderson, NV
Christopher Hopper, TX
Ezekiel Weeks, Fort Collins, CO
Nick Dynice, Long Beach, CA
Larry Campbell, Brookline, MA
Bryon Cannon, Publisher, Tessella Books, KS
Christian Yetter, Writer, Manhattan, KS
Tyler Good, Student in game design and development, FL
Erin Meehan, WA
James Adkins, AZ
David Schuldt, PA
Jason Cerundolo, Lexington, MA
Jesse Latimer, CA
Brett Battjer, Washington, DC
Megan S. Rorie, Dallas, TX
Michael Donohoe, Software Developer, Brooklyn, NY
David Serafino, Graduate Student, University of Virginia
Chase Hoffman, Information Technology Professional, Austin, TX
Josh McFarland, Hot Springs, AR
John Ramsey, Web Developer and Musician
Erin A. Kinser, Columbus, OH
Doug Flint, Denver, CO
Sean Murphy, Portland, OR
Andrew Slayman, Photographer, Denver, CO
Jason Gantenberg, Naperville, IL
Aaron Turner, Software Developer, San Jose, CA
Bryan Oltman, Olathe, KS
Hyman Rosen, New York, NY
RJ Herrick, CT
Andrew Neely, Omaha, NE
Ben Seigel, Madison, WI
Alan Wexelblat, Writer and Photographer, MA
Alex Kemmler, Chicago, IL
Christina Rogers, MO
Craig Buchek, St. Louis, MO
Bill Seitz, IL
John Irvine, MO
Sam Blanchard, Princeton, NJ
Gregory Caruso, Boston, MA
Jim McLuckie, Musician and Filmmaker, Ferndale, MI
Balfour S. Smith, Durham, NC
Steve Helm, Blacksburg, VA
Mike Linksvayer, Oakland, CA
John Drop, Professor, GA
Michael Ahlers, Arlington, VA
Adam Gravois, Austin, TX
Steve Dirsa, St. Louis, MO
Matt Scoville, Salt Lake City, UT
Beta Bisrat, Web Developer, Washington DC
Lalita Aisola, High School Teacher, San Jose, CA
Jeremy Forbing, San Francisco, CA
Aaron M. Hutzel, Canonsburg, PA
Jason Cunningham
Nathaniel Luders, San Lorenzo, CA
Barton Christopher Junior, VA
Brenda Dayne, OR
Chris Gaeden, Santa Rosa, CA
Dan McDougall, FL
Ben Broderick Phillips, MA
Curtis Carmony, NM
Sonya Dunne
Bruce Lerner, Systems Engineer, CT
Bradford A. Patrick, Tampa, Florida
Nathanael Nerode, Software Programmer & Investment Advisor, Ithaca, NY
Alberto Gaitán, Arlington, VA
Dylan Cascio
Pratik Chhetri, Pre-med student, Central Michigan University-CMU
Percy Hatcherson, Chicago, IL
Ron Goldman, Los Altos, CA
Jesse Williams
Bruce Ryan, Seattle WA

International signatories

Health Action International (HAI) Europe
La Quadrature du Net, France
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law,
University of Ottawa
Cory Doctorow, Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation and bestselling
Francisco Viegas Neves da Silva, Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS
Association (ABIA), Working Group on Intellectual Property (GTPI/REBRIP)
Ellen 't Hoen, Lawyer, Switzerland
Pedro Paranaguá, Assistant-Professor at FGV School of Law-Rio and
Doctorate candidate at Duke University School of Law
Karolina Tuomisto, Medical Student, Finland
Tako Taal, Berlin, Germany
Jamie King, Film Director, Berlin Germany
Felix Stalder, Net Time
João Sérgio da Silva Costa, Informatics Technician/Univertsity Student,
Tiago Rangel Côrtes, Student, Brazil
Jochen Ahleff, Software Developer, Munich, Germany
David Guy, Brantford, ON, Canada
Xavi Drudis Ferran, Software Developer, Catalonia
Tong Yew Sum, Malaysia

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