The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was first discussed way back in 2006, but negotiations only began in 2008, with the following countries participating: EU, US, Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Singapore. As its name suggests, it was originally designed to tackle counterfeit goods – fake drugs for example. But it soon acquired a digital piracy section that tried to take the same approach to unauthorised sharing of copyright materials online.
As well as this mistake of mixing two fundamentally different problems, requiring quite different solutions, ACTA's legitimacy was fatally undermined by its obsessive secrecy. The public was not only unable to give any input into the negotiations (except for a few, late and inadequate stakeholder meetings in Brussels), it was not allowed even to know what was being discussed. It was only when Wikileaks published a draft of the ACTA treaty that people were able to analyse it and point out its many serious problems.
Despite this, ACTA was finally agreed by the negotiators, and by January most countries had signed, but not ratified the treaty [pdf]. That ratification was particularly complicated in Europe, since it required the approval of all 27 members states, the European Commission, European Council and the European Parliament.
Computerworld UK's ACTA Update began at this point, when it looked likely that ratification in European would take place as planned, and ACTA would come into force. However, in a surprising turn of events, things did not turn out as expected, as successive ACTA Updates reported.
It's noted that following the mobilisation of internet users against SOPA, then it's possible that a similar wave of action against ACTA in Europe could kill the proposal.
We challenge the Danish Minister for Trade and Investment that "ACTA is a victory for Denmark" - why is legislation against counterfeit medicines the same as those for the simplest copyright infringement?
The European Commission has released a report claiming to do away with 10 myths.
We take a look through the European Commission’s ‘ACTA Myths’ document. This week, it’s legal justifications and favouring rights holders.
Does the argument that Europe needs ACTA to prevent counterfeiting of goods really hold water? We dive into the UK government’s official statement, and come up with more than a few questions.
Are European politicians blocking thousands of emails from ACTA opponents? Probably not, but a few tips on how best to communicate your opinions wouldn’t go amiss.
The European Union may be officially dedicated to openness and transparency, but just how deep does that commitment actually run? A dig into the website of the Secretariat General is in order.
A hope for sanity from an unexpected quarter — the European Court of Justice. With the bill referred for consultation on its compatibility with European law, can defenders of the radical act make their arguments stack up?
Some useful advice on who to contact in Brussels, how to phrase your arguments, and what to avoid when trying to convince MEPs to vote the right way.
We look at the failings of a report entitled “ACTA in the EU: A Practical Analysis”, produced by BASCAP and INTA, two organisations that are backing the proposals.
French pressure group La Quadrature du Net warns of the danger of delaying a final vote on ACTA, while I propose how you can make your views known to influential MEPs.
We look at the withering commentary on the treaty’s shortcomings by the Industry, Research and Energy committee of the European Parliament
The amazing events culminate in the European Parliament's rapporteur for ACTA recommending the Parliament votes against the trade agreement.