Copyright behind closed doors

ustr-logoPublic Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced earlier this week that they are “reluctantly” dropping their lawsuit against the U.S. Trade Representative, which sought information on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) being secretly negotiated by the U.S. and a dozen other countries. The public-interest groups made the decision to withdraw the litigation after the Obama Administration informed the court that it intends to defend the Bush Administration’s claims of national security in refusing to turn over documents on the treaty.

“Federal judges have very little discretion to overrule Executive Branch decisions to classify information on ‘national security’ grounds,” EFF said in a press release. “Rather than pursuing a lawsuit with little chance of forcing the disclosure of key ACTA documents, EFF and Public Knowledge will devote their efforts to advocating for consumer representation on the U.S. Industry Trade Advisory Committee on IP, the creation of a civil society trade advisory committee, and greater government transparency about what ACTA means for citizens.”

Good luck with that.

Apart from giving the lie to Barack Obama’s increasingly doubtful promise to run an open and transparent administration, the continued secrecy around ACTA is of a piece with what seems to be a growing trend among rich countries to turn the debate on global IP issues into a private conversation among themselves, even to the point of undermining the global institution rich countries originally created to deal with global IP issues: the World Intellectual Property Organization. Read More »