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What You Need to Know:

The ACTA Fight Returns: What Is at Stake and What You Can Do

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The reverberations from the SOPA fight continue to be felt in the U.S. (excellent analysis from Benkler and Downes) and elsewhere (mounting Canadian concern that Bill C-11 could be amended to adopt SOPA-like rules), but it is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that has captured increasing attention this week. Several months after the majority of ACTA participants signed the agreement, most European Union countries formally signed the agreement yesterday (notable exclusions include Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Cyprus and Slovakia). 

This has generated a flurry of furious protest: thousands have taken to the streets in protest in Poland, nearly 250,000 people have signed a petition against the agreement, and a Member of the European Parliament has resigned his position as rapporteur to scrutinize the agreement, concluding that the entire review process is a "charade."

Some are characterizing ACTA as worse than SOPA, but the reality is somewhat more complicated. From a substantive perspective, ACTA's Internet provisions are plainly not as bad as those contemplated by SOPA. Over the course of several years of public protest and pressure, the Internet provisions were gradually watered down with the removal of three strikes and you're out language. Other controversial provisions on statutory damages and anti-camcording rules were made optional rather than mandatory.

While the Internet provisions may not be as bad as SOPA, the remainder of the agreement raises many significant concerns.


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