The Wellington Declaration

spent most of Saturday at the Public ACTA meeting in Wellington, discussing the text of the leaked draft ACTA treaty, and helping formulate what is now known as the Wellington Declaration.

The funniest part of the meeting was hearing from Michael Geist that in the Canadian Parliament that a Canadian said there was no need to officially release the draft text of the ACTA treaty, as there was a leaked copy on Michael’s blogsite.

One shouldn’t have to rely on leaks, to know what is being negotiated.

Some key parts of the Wellington Declaration:

Consistent with the European Parliament’s Resolution of 10 March 2010 on the Transparency and State of Play of the ACTA Negotiations (P7_TA(2010)0058), ACTA should be limited to an Agreement regarding enforcement against counterfeiting (the large scale commercial production of illicit physical goods).

ACTA should not be a backdoor way to rewrite intellectual policy laws.

We recognise that the Internet has enabled creativity and innovation, the sharing of knowledge, citizen engagement and democracy, and is an engine of and opportunity. This is the result of certain attributes of the Internet: its open protocols and its generativity; the fact that anyone can connect and anyone can build new applications, and find new uses without discrimination. ACTA should preserve these attributes.

like this clause. We take for granted too often the open nature of the Internet.

We note that the World Intellectual Property Organisation has public, inclusive and transparent processes for negotiating multilateral agreements on (and a committee dedicated to the enforcement of) copyright, trademark and patent rights, and thus we affirm that WIPO is a preferable forum for the negotiation of substantive provisions affecting these matters.

WIPO is far from perfect, but at least it negotiations are public, and often involve stakeholders.

We declare public scrutiny and accountability to be important aspects of life in a free society. We call for full transparency and public scrutiny of the ACTA process including release of the text after each round of negotiations. Governments have been unwilling to respond to specific concerns raised by the public. Public scrutiny will help to ensure the Agreement has no unintended consequences and has maximum positive benefit.

A number of Governments, including New Zealand, have been pushing for more transparency. However it takes only one country to veto the release of the text.

We declare that ACTA must recognise that intermediaries, such as ISPs, web site hosts, and search engines, are central to enabling people to derive the benefits of the Internet.  Their role must be protected and encouraged.

Intermediaries who do not initiate or direct the content on their systems or networks must have the benefit of safe harbours that are not predicated on enforcement obligations designed to address third-party infringement.

ACTA must not mandate secondary liability standards.

The Internet basically stops working if ISPs have secondary liability for what their users do. An ISPs obligation is to obey the law as directed by a competent authority.

We declare that access to the Internet is increasingly necessary for participation in society.

Disconnection, account suspension, or limitation of service, have disproportionately negative consequences for civil rights. ACTA cannot require or allow that it be an acceptable sanction for copyright or trademark infringement.

And this is what the is pushing for.

We declare that ACTA must provide a high bar for criminal liability. ACTA must not attempt to reframe personal use and private acts to fit a definition of “commercial” infringement.

One proposal in ACTA is to make it a criminal offence to use a camcorder in a movie theatre.

If you support the Wellington Declaration, you can sign your name to it here. Almost 1,000 people have signed it so far, and it will be presented to the actual ACTA negotiators on Tuesday.

Well done to the organisers for a very useful and productive meeting on Saturday.

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