What Really Happened At the ACTA Talks in Mexico?

With the conclusion of the 7th round of ACTA negotiations in Guadalajara, Mexico last week, participating countries issued the now-standard boilerplate statement that merely repeats the agenda items and provides no real insight into the progress of the talks.  While the statement is does little to advance the desire for greater transparency, reports from New Zealand and Sweden shed far more light on where things stand.  The key points:

  • The U.S. proposal for Internet enforcement has received considerable public attention, yet there are three proposals on the table that address digital enforcement and safe harbours (ie. intermediary liability).  One of New Zealand's negotiators reports that a fourth proposal is currently being formulated and that it could take six more months before this chapter is settled.
  • In addition to safe harbour rules, the talks in Mexico also addressed DMCA-style issues such as anti-circumvention legislation.
  • The Europeans continue to push for the extension of ACTA beyond copyright and trademarks to also include patents.
  • Some countries have become more open to sharing ACTA documents in response to transparency concerns, but there remain some who insist that the discussions remain strictly confidential.  Both New Zealand and Sweden are on record as supporting greater transparency.


  1. Who is against transparency?
    I’d really like to know which countries are insisting that the discussions remain strictly confidential. It would seem to run counter to the transparency ethic that Obama is trying to instill in the US public service, if indeed the USTR is behind this secrecy requirement as many have speculated.

  2. There is an error in the Google translation from swedish to english in the article (report from Sweden)

    The english translation says: The Swedish government has said that Sweden is willing to accept an agreement which modifies the current rules for Internet operators are responsible for traffic.

    The swedish original says: The Swedish government has said that Sweden is NOT willing to accept……


    What is scary is that countries are willing to adopt an agreement which I assume is binding and required to be enacted.. Although I think an MP said it wont affect laws etc you would presume if the agreement had those kinds of stipulations in it we will be in trouble..

    I thought that this was a trade agreement? Whoever at the MPAARIAA thought this one up is probably gonna get a big cut of the artists money next paycheck.. I bet a ton of lobbyists are talking at ACTA meetings lol..

  4. @Yatti420
    Binding on signing is dependent on the country. In Canada, as I understand it, signature does not automatically make it binding (hence the complaints about Canada and the WIPO treaties). Signature rarely automatically binds from what I have seen, although it may impose some requirements on the signatory, for instance the requirement to not pass any laws between signature and ratification which go against the treaty (for instance, the landmine treaty has this). The US has signed, but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; they are not bound by it. A country can also walk away from a signed, but not ratified treaty.

    In Canada, the government in power has the right to unilaterally ratify the treaty; the current government announced a policy a few years ago whereby there would be discussion in the House of Commons about new treaties prior to ratification, but this does not require, as I understand it, a ratification vote in Parliament. See for more info.

    As I said, this varies by country. In the US, treaty ratification may, or may not, require Congressional approval; they use a different definition of treaty, with more subtle differentiations. For instance, ACTA is being described as requiring only the Executive Branch (the President) to ratify it, not Congress.

  5. @Abattoir:
    I know for one that Denmark is opposed to transparency, but who gives a hoot about my tiny home country anyway? 🙂 Judging from leaked dutch documents from within their own delegation, at least among the european nations it’s Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Denmark who’s against releasing the documents, however it’s not from a verified source. However if the source pulls through, all four countries are concidered flexible on the issue – that is except Denmark! If the matter wasn’t so serious and I wasn’t danish, I’d be laughing hard right now 🙂