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April 19, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

A call to arms

Public calls for clarification and transparency within the ACTA negotiations

A four-page document entitled ‘The Wellington Declaration’ has been submitted to the New Zealand negotiators involved in the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.

ACTA is a plurilateral trade agreement, aimed at minimising the global trade of counterfeit goods. However, statements and leaked documents have illustrated that unauthorised sharing of copyrighted works over the internet is also within the scope of the agreement.

The Wellington Declaration arose from the PublicACTA conference help in Wellington on 10 April 2010, and raises concern about the scope of ACTA and the lack of transparency within negotiations.

Specifically, the Wellington Declaration calls for “a clear statement of the problem that ACTA is designed to solve, with independent evidence to support it”.

Furthermore, it calls “for full transparency and public scrutiny” within the negotiations, and says there is a need for “wider participation in the setting of the agenda and scope of ACTA”.

The declaration was submitted accompanied by a petition with over 6000 signatures from New Zealand and abroad. InternetNZ Policy Director Jordon Carter says support for the petition is continuing to grow at a rapid pace.

“We’ve lodged the Wellington Declaration with the New Zealand negotiators but it has also gathered a life of its own globally … with massive support particularly from Europe and North America.”

Labour Party Communications and IT Spokesperson Clare Curran has called into question the scope of ACTA.

“While in name it is about protecting consumers from counterfeit merchandise, the agreement is much wider in scope and addresses the regulation of internet use by private citizens in an attempt to prevent unauthorised sharing of copyrighted works.”

Curran says it is important the government ensure that the negotiations are in line with its assertions of transparency.

“The government has an important opportunity to show New Zealand citizens that it is not just paying lip service to its claims of transparency. We’ve heard countless claims by the government that it is about being transparent. Here’s the chance to prove it.”

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) reinforced this call for transparency.

“LIANZA considers that any agreement relating to intellectual property should be negotiated openly and transparently, so that all potential stakeholders have input to the process.”

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