ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, has been under negotiation since 2007 by representatives from the United States and several dozen other countries. Although nominally limited to counterfeiting, reports have suggested a much larger scope, with rumors hinting at border searches for infringing content on iPods, mandatory three-strikes policies for ISPs, and criminal penalties for Internet "piracy," all under the umbrella of an international policy regime. Public analysis and comment on ACTA have been constrained by the secrecy of the negotiations: Through most of the process, discussions have taken place in private.
An official draft of the agreement was revealed in October 2009, but distribution was limited to a handful of selected individuals and only under seal of nondisclosure. As of April, 2010, we have the first public version of the document and, according to ACTA proponents, the concerns are considered overblown and unfounded. ACTA leaves U. S. copyright law unchanged, they say, retaining fair use and other consumer protections, while providing a powerful tool to fight the high-stakes international organized crime that's deriving huge profits by misappropriating intellectual property. Others remain unconvinced. In this session we'll review the history, current status, and next steps for ACTA and examine the conflicting claims.