EFA welcomes the recommendation from the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) of the Federal Parliament that Australia should not ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) at this time.
EFA Secretary Kim Heitman said, “The Committee is to be congratulated for its astute assessment that the ACTA treaty should not be ratified while debate rages in Europe and the US on its terms. In particular, the requirements that member countries introduce draconian provisions criminalising normal Internet users and refrain from expanding fair usage rights are contrary to the public interest and the economic interests of Australians.”
EFA believes that the Committee were correct in rejecting the assertion from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that the ACTA treaty would not require changes to Australian law. While the final text was bland, in the light of the High Court decision in the iiNet case, the international interests that drive these discussions will push for Australia to introduce legislation to impose a graduated response ("three strikes") punishment for downloaders.
EFA also commends the committee for urging the government to first undertake an assessment of the economic and social benefits and costs of the agreement, and to wait for the outcome of the imminent Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) review of the Copyright Act in the digital environment, before considering whether to ratify the treaty. The ratification of ACTA prior to the completion of the ALRC review would be unjustifiably premature and would potentially constrain the ability of the ALRC to recommend much-needed reforms to the Copyright Act.
EFA further believes that the Committee is correct in refuting DFAT’s claim that these treaties must be negotiated in secret, without even parliamentary scrutiny, as is the department's undemocratic habit with trade treaties. As the Committee noted, the ACTA treaty is all about Intellectual Property laws and cannot be kept secret when so much legislative change would be triggered by its ratification. The only "trade" is the sell-out of Australian interests to international corporations.
EFA is strongly opposed to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and believes that Australia should not ratify this treaty at any time.
See the full Committee report here: http://aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=jsct/21november2011/report.htm
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