For the moment, WIPO is busy with its new Director General (Francis Gurry just got elected to the post), and the Development Agenda process has forced the advocates of strict copyright to at least re-shuffle their cards for a moment.
But another front is opening up elsewhere. There’s an agreement that’s being prepared for negotiation. Under the name of ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), rich country governments in cahoots with some business lobbies are trying out yet another way to impose their agenda on the rest of us.
In Knowledge Ecology Studies, Aaron Shaw has recently published an excellent write-up explaining why this is a problem. According to him, it wouldn’t just mean that overly strict rules for copyright and patents are foisted upon people that don’t need them. It would also set a very bad precedent for global governance:
So why is ACTA such a big deal? If signed, the agreement would constitute a diplomatic putsch by a handful of wealthy states and corporations against the rest of the world. Already, it signals an overt and troubling rejection of multilateralism. The so-called “plurilateral” approach represents an outdated model of international treaty-making whereby the unelected representatives of Northern states and a few corporate lobbyists dictate the rules of global markets. Such arrangements were commonplace during the 1990s under the neo-liberal “Washington Consensus” and prior to the Doha Round of negotiations in the WTO. Today, however, this kind of blatant disregard for global consensus and the needs of developing regions poses a threat to the world’s prosperity, security and health.
So keep your eyes peeled. And go do something about it.