07/03/2012 05:17 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
On July 4th, the European Parliament will vote on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – a treaty that should be supported. This treaty would reward the millions of hours of hard work and creativity put into Europe’s cultural and manufacturing sectors while also allowing for consumers to receive reliable, high-quality, and safe products.
ACTA is a useful and important step towards attaining a more balanced and ordered system for trade in IP-based goods and services. Unfortunately, there are rampant negative rumors about the treaty that are causing widespread misconceptions about its scope and intent. Some points of clarification about the most prominent falsehoods. First, the treaty will protect the rights of hard-working individuals in countless industries rather than just assist the entertainment industry as opponents have claimed. Second, the treaty will not restrict the rights of anyone nor will it “break the internet”. Far from being a secret internet censorship police force, the treaty will simply work to ensure the limitation of merchandise, both physical and digital, making its way illegally across international borders.
Measures like those contemplated by ACTA are necessary to ensure the future growth and sustainable development of the general economy and society in Europe. If we hope to continue to be seen as a place of innovation, creativity, and quality we must take part in the move into the future. This international agreement will follow all EU laws while protecting the hard-work of EU right holders in foreign markets and improving the safety and quality of the market for consumers. Such a development would allow for the strengthening of job positions for the approximately 120 million people already employed in IP-reliant fields throughout Europe while also permitting the sectors to improve prospects for the creation of new jobs.
If clarifications are needed to confirm the facts, let them be provided. If lessons need to be taken about the handling of future international trade negotiations to improve transparency, let them be learned and applied prospectively. But let us not sacrifice a good agreement that is itself innocent of the nefarious charges against it simply to make a point. It is too high a price to pay for those whose livelihoods depend on IP and for future economic growth in Europe.
Agreements like ACTA are the economic necessities of the future and we urge a considered, responsible, and informed decision at its plenary vote.