Press Release

Groups Ask USTR To Remove Internet Issues From Trade Treaty

July 16, 2009 , , ,

Nine groups have sent a letter to Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, asking him for some revisions to his decision to move forward with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

The groups told Kirk, “Based on negotiating documents that have become public—but not made available by the U.S. government—we have good reason to believe that the ACTA negotiations could harm a significant portion ofthe economy as well as consumer interests.”

Here are the main points of the July 14 letter:

  1. Delete the Internet-specific provisions of ACTA. Your staff acknowledges that these issues are some of the most controversial and complex in the ACTA negotiations. The dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of the Internet add to the difficulty of evaluating the likely impact of provisions in this area. Given the potential harm to the Internet economy and to consumers, therefore, we urge you to delete such provisions from the negotiations.

  2. Make available negotiating documents. ACTA concerns enforcement of trademark and copyright law. There is absolutely no reason for the negotiating documents to be secret. Indeed, given the highly technical nature of intellectual property law, and the inconsistent U.S. court decisions in this area, USTR would benefit from broad public input to ensure that U.S. negotiating positions do not stray from U.S. law. These documents should be available prior to sharing with international trade partners so that stakeholders can provide input prior to any negotiation.

  3. Establish advisory committees to represent Internet and civil society constituencies. The issues that confront the Internet differ significantly from those facing other industry sectors, and cleared advisors with expertise in the Internet industry would be able to provide USTR with information and a perspective that it is not presently receiving. Given the potential impact of trade agreements in general, and ACTA in particular, on consumers, USTR should also establish a consumer advisory committee to ensure that the voices of consumers are being heard as well.

The organizations signing the letter are:

American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
Association ofResearch Libraries
Center for Democracy & Technology
Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA)
Electronic Frontier Foundation
NetCoalition
Public Knowledge
Special Libraries Association