ACTA May Be More Favorable to IP Owners

Online Exclusive: International Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement Could Limit Internet Access

It began innocuously. The U.S., the European Commission, Switzerland and Japan announced in October 2007 they would negotiate a new international agreement to toughen enforcement measures against counterfeit goods.

The WCT's and WPPT's anti-circumvention provisions apply only to technological protections that restrict copying a copyrighted work. ACTA, like the DMCA, goes further, protecting technological measures that restrict copying or accessing a copyrighted work. Under current international law, a person could legally circumvent technological measures blocking access to a copyrighted work and thus enable a lawfully purchased music file designed to play only on iPods to play on a different digital audio player. The DMCA forbids such circumvention, and so would ACTA.

Neither the WCT nor the WPPT require signatories to outlaw the creation or distribution of anti-circumvention tools (items designed to circumvent technological protections on copyrighted works), but the DMCA does. ACTA would require all signatories to adopt such a prohibition.

All this resembles an international IP organization already in existence. "ACTA would clearly replicate WIPO in many important ways," Geist states.

But there's a good reason why those pushing for stronger IP rights want to avoid WIPO. Many of WIPO's members reject tougher IP protections. Developing countries such as India and Brazil have become increasingly assertive and often fight to maintain their citizens' freedom to use IP-protected works.


Steven Seidenberg

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