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The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

Published Thursday, March 8, 2012

This note provides a brief overview of the controversy and includes a summary of the final text of the agreement.

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The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international treaty intended to improve global enforcement of intellectual property rights. The UK, with 22 other EU Member States, signed the agreement on 26 January 2012 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. The agreement is currently with the European Parliament, with a vote on consent expected to take place towards late summer 2012. The UK Government has indicated that it intends to ratify the agreement in due course. The Commons European Scrutiny Committee reported that the document did not raise questions of sufficient legal or political importance to warrant a substantive report to the House.

ACTA is supported by numerous organisations representing rights-owners; who argue it would combat counterfeiting and piracy; it has been criticised by a number of organisations advocating internet freedom for its perceived impact on privacy and innovation. The UK Government argues that it will not create new intellectual property rights, laws, or criminal offences in the UK or EU, but will provide an international framework that strengthens procedures for international enforcement in areas of intellectual property. Opponents argue that ACTA will put the interests of rights-holders ahead of free speech, privacy, and other fundamental rights by pushing internet providers to carry out surveillance of their networks and disclose the personal information of alleged infringers to rights-holders.

This note provides a brief overview of the controversy and includes a summary of the final text of the agreement.

Commons Briefing papers SN06248

Authors: Philip Ward; Jacqueline Beard

Topic: Intellectual property

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