The Australian Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) have presented their parliament with a damming report (embedded below) concluding that they recommend the Australian Parliament not to ratify the agreement in its present form. The decision was unanimous.
ACTA is a multinational treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement and involves 37 countries. Of those 37 countries, 30 have signed the agreement, with a further 7 yet to do so. There are no countries as yet to ratify the agreement. For ACTA to come into force, it must first be ratified by at least 6 countries, however even if it does come into force then the agreement will only be in effect with those 6 countries that ratified the agreement. It is this lack of ratification by any country as yet, which is one of the main concerns with Australia as ratifying the agreement would leave Australia at a distinct disadvantage with the rest of the world.
ACTA has been hugely controversial ever since news of the agreement was first leaked, causing massive protests around Europe and around the world. The agreement was created in secret behind closed doors yet the MPAA and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America had a large involvement with its development. Having two large US commercial organisations create a law that multiple countries would have to abide by, so that their financial position in the world would be secured, borders on corporate fraud. It still amazes me that corporations are still allowed to have this much direct access to our present and future laws, whilst having a complete disregard for any collateral damage that they may cause.
Due to the secrecy around the development of ACTA, civil society groups, developing countries and the general public were barred from listening in or having any involvement. It is this complete lack of transparency and shady back room deals that have resulted
The 126 Report released today by JSCOT makes note in its conclusion (P.57 onwards)
In a rapidly changing situation, media and other reports also indicate that:
- Poland has suspended consideration of ratification of ACTA until at least the end of 2012
- Bulgaria has suspended consideration of ratification until European Union member states elaborate a joint position on ACTA. It is not clear whether this means the position elaborated by the European Union or each EU country individually;
- Germany has not signed ACTA, and will not do so until the European Parliament has expressed an opinion;
- The Czech Republic has suspended the ratification process until further notice;
- A motion passed the Dutch Lower House recommending rejection of ACTA;
- The Slovak Republic has suspended the ratification process until further notice; and
- Switzerland has postponed signed ACTA until issues relating to personal freedoms have been clarified.
That the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement not be ratified by Australia until the:
- Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has received and considered the independent and transparent assessment of the economic and social benefits and costs of the Agreement referred to in Recommendation;
- Australian Law Reform Commission has reported on its Inquiry into Copyright and the Digital Economy; and the
- Australian Government has issued notices of clarification in relation to the terms of the Agreement as recommended in the other recommendations of this report.
8.11 As has been stated in the previous chapters, the Committee is concerned about the lack of clarity in the text, the exclusion of provisions protecting the rights of individuals, and ACTA’s potential to shift the balance in the interpretation of copyright law, intellectual property law and patent law. The international reaction to ACTA, which, without exception, comes from countries which the Committee considers would have the same interests as Australia, must be taken into consideration.
So now Australia seems to be joining the long list of countries that signed ACTA, but have actually started to understand its ramifications. Good to see, and about time.
Full Report 126 released yesterday detailing The Australian Joint Standing Committee decision
Here is a list of countries that have signed ACTA so far (None of which have yet ratified)
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- Australia (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- South Korea (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- Singapore (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- New Zealand (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- Morocco (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- Japan (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- Canada (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- United States (signed 1 October 2011 in Tokyo)
- Mexico (still haven’t signed, but pledged support during the Tokyo talks in 2011)
- Switzerland (same as Mexico, but stated in May 2012 that they will hold off signing pending the EU’s verdict)