The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), best known for speaking out against organisations with “agendas”, has criticised the final text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) saying it adds very little to existing international laws and agreements.
After 11 rounds of discussions since 2008, the ACTA consortium, which includes the 27 EU Member States, the US, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and Switzerland, agreed to a final version of the Agreement this week.
FAST liked one article of the final text, which is entitled “damages” and, as one might expect, allows for copyright holders to claim as much money from infringers as possible. Some additions under this article allow for extra fines in addition to unpaid licensing fees, allowing many companies to effectively profit from being infringed. No wonder FAST is applauding it.
That was pretty much the only thing that FAST was pleased with in the final text, which it doesn't believe goes far enough in penalising copyright infringement.
“What is this voluntary trade agreement worth in real terms and does it actually add anything new to the international intellectual property enforcement framework?” asked John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST. “The answer has to be ‘not a lot’ unless it acts as a springboard for UK statutory damages following the example of the USA?”
Back to damages then. Surely the idea of ACTA is to put an end to copyright infringement in the first place, instead of focusing on how much money can be milked from it.
And this is from the same FAST that slammed ISPs for seeking a judicial review of the UK's Digital Economy Act, which seeks to bring in a graduated warning system for illegal downloaders.
FAST claimed the ISPs were only in it for the money, but its own wording in response to ACTA is all about claiming damages, as if that is what protecting copyright is all about.
FAST was obviously not happy that the Digital Economy Act may be changed or scrapped after the judicial review is completed and was hoping for a strict final version of ACTA to fill any gaps left in the system.
With a somewhat less aggressive Agreement decided upon, it's no surprise that FAST would come out swinging when the battle is effectively over.