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Parliamentary Committee rejection of ACTA welcomed

Media release June 27, 2012

Fair trade group welcomes Parliamentary Committee rejection of Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA) and condemns similar proposals in Trans-Pacific negotiations

“We welcome the criticism of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which has today released a report recommending a delay in ratification of the agreement,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, said today.

“These recommendations respond to concerns raised by a wide range of civil society groups, including public library groups, internet users and IT groups, academic experts and generic medicine manufacturers,” said Dr Ranald.

“The committee report notes that many of the agreement’s provisions are ambiguous and could give increased rights to copyright and patent holders at the expense of members of the public, especially in relation to Internet copyright. It also argues that the agreement is unbalanced in potentially applying criminal penalties and undefined civil damages to single acts like temporarily storing data or forwarding e-mails, without adequate protection to ensure that individuals are treated fairly,” explained Dr Ranald.

“Although there was public consultation, the report notes it was limited by the lack of access to the text of the agreement, which was not released until after the negotiations had been completed,” said Dr Ranald.

“The report also documents that a key committee of the European Parliament has rejected the treaty for similar reasons, and that the ratification of the treaty in the United States has been stalled. The report notes that the Australian Law Reform Commission is also investigating Australia's copyright law, and recommends consideration of the agreement be postponed until the Commission reports in 2013”, added Dr Ranald.

“These criticisms cast a shadow over the current negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), currently being negotiated between the US, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. Proposals on copyright and patents similar to those in the ACTA agreement should be withdrawn in the light of the committee recommendations,” concluded Dr Ranald.

ENDS

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