What Really Happened At the ACTA Talks in Mexico?

By Michael Geist 2/2/10

With the conclusion of the 7th round of ACTA negotiations in Guadalajara, Mexico last week, participating countries issued the now-standard boilerplate statement that merely repeats the agenda items and provides no real insight into the progress of the talks. While the statement is does little to advance the desire for greater transparency, reports from New Zealand and Sweden shed far more light on where things stand. The key points:

* The U.S. proposal for Internet enforcement has received considerable public attention, yet there are three proposals on the table that address digital enforcement and safe harbours (ie. intermediary liability). One of New Zealand's negotiators reports that a fourth proposal is currently being formulated and that it could take six more months before this chapter is settled.
* In addition to safe harbour rules, the talks in Mexico also addressed DMCA-style issues such as anti-circumvention legislation.
* The Europeans continue to push for the extension of ACTA beyond copyright and trademarks to also include patents.
* Some countries have become more open to sharing ACTA documents in response to transparency concerns, but there remain some who insist that the discussions remain strictly confidential. Both New Zealand and Sweden are on record as supporiting greater transparency.

Michael Geist

Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law. as written numerous academic articles and government reports on the Internet and law and is a columnist on technology law issues

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