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Written by Olivia Solon - taken from http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-01/26/eu-signs-up-to-acta
Edited by Nate Lanxon
The EU and 22 of its member states have signed up to Acta — the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — in Tokyo today (26 January).
Acta — which is supported by many rights owners — has been met with widespread criticism from open rights activists, who argue that the legislation has been rushed through the legal system under the guise of being a trade agreement, when in fact it is a new copyright law. They also argue that it blurs the distinction between piracy and counterfeiting and that it criminalises copyright infringement when there are civil sanctions already.
Representatives from the European Union and 22 member states — including the UK, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden — attended a ceremony at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The five remaining member states — Cyprus, Germany, Estonia Netherlands and Slovakia, are expected to sign up soon.
The EU now joins other signatories Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the US, who signed up to the treaty in October 2011.
What is ACTA?
text for article from Electronic Frontier Foundation - https://www.eff.org/issues/acta
In October 2007, the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan simultaneously announced that they would negotiate a new intellectual property enforcement treaty the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA. Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada have joined the negotiations. Although the proposed treaty’s title might suggest that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines) what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope and in particular will deal with new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology”.
In recent years major U.S. and EU copyright industry rightsholder groups have sought stronger powers to enforce their intellectual property rights across the world to preserve their business models. These efforts have been underway in a number of international fora including at the World Trade Organization the World Customs Organization at the G8 summit at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement and at the Intellectual Property Experts’ Group at the Asia Pacific Economic Coalition. Since the conclusion of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Issues of Intellectual Property in 1994 (TRIPS) most new intellectual property enforcement powers have been created outside of the traditional multilateral venues through bilateral and regional free trade agreements entered into by the United States and the European Community with their respective key trading partners. ACTA is the new frontline in the global IP enforcement agenda.