Media Advisory: Secret Counterfeiting Treaty Must Be Made Public, Global Organizations Say

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Press release on EssentialAction.org

September 15, 2008

**Secret Counterfeiting Treaty Must Be Made Public, Global Organizations Say**

More than 100 public interest organizations from around the world today called on officials from the countries negotiating Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – Canada, the United States, Mexico, the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand -- to publish immediately the draft text of the agreement.

Secrecy around the treaty negotiation has fueled concerns that its terms will undermine vital consumer interests.

Organizations signing the letter include: The Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, The Canadian Library Association, Consumers Union (USA), Electronic Frontier Foundation (USA), Essential Action (USA), Global Trade Watch (USA), Public Knowledge (USA), Australian Digital Alliance, Consumers Union of Japan, IP Left (Korea), Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) Campaign for Essential Medicines and National Consumer Council (UK).

Based on leaked documents and industry comments on the proposed treaty, the groups expressed concerns that ACTA may:

* Require Internet Service Providers to monitor all consumers' Internet communications;

* Interfere with fair use of copyrighted materials;

* Criminalize peer-to-peer electronic file sharing; and

* Undermine access to low-cost generic medicines.

"Because the text of the treaty and relevant discussion documents remain secret, the public has no way of assessing whether and to what extent these and related concerns are merited," say the public interest groups in their letter.

Worsening the problem is the perception that industry lobbyists have access to the text and are influencing the negotiations. "The lack of transparency in negotiations of an agreement that will affect the fundamental rights of citizens of the world is fundamentally undemocratic. It is made worse by the public perception that lobbyists from the music, film, software, video games, luxury goods and pharmaceutical industries have had ready access to the ACTA text and pre-text discussion documents through long-standing communication channels."

"ACTA has raised concerns for millions of citizens around the world," says Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. "The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy and ensure that the future negotiations occur in an open and transparent environment."

"We're looking for the Canadian government to show leadership in introducing transparency and responsible consumer consultation to ACTA discussions," says David Fewer of the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), also at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law.

The full text of the letter and the list of signers is available at: ACTA-signon.rtf

Additional quotes from international groups signing the letter is available at: ACTAquotes.rtf

For more information contact:

Canada: Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, (Office) +1 (613) 562-5800 ext. 3319, mgeist@uottawa.ca.

USA: Robert Weissman, director, Essential Action +1 (202) 387-8030, (Mobile) +1 (202) 360-1844, rob@essential.org

Korea: Byoung-il Oh, Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, (Tel) +82-2-774-455, (Mobile): +82-19-213-9199, antiropy@www.jinbo.net

Australia: Kimberlee Weatherall, Lecturer, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland, (Mobile) +61 4 0376 2544, k.weatherall@law.uq.edu.au