This weekend saw the release of the so-called Wellington Declaration, which was discussed, written and finally signed off by the participants of the PublicACTA conference, which found place in New Zealand two days ahead another round of secret negotiations on ACTA.

The Wellington Declaration calls for limiting ACTA to counterfeiting, or "the large scale commercial production of illicit physical goods." In addition, the signees demand ACTA should "not attempt to reframe personal use and private acts to fit a definition of “commercial” infringement."

ACTA defines "significant" sharing of copyrighted goods between two persons with no direct or indirect financial gain as "commercial." In other words, ACTA does not only cover the mafia selling fake Louis Vuitton handbags, but anything and everything under the sun.

Further demands are safe harbours for intermediaries (ISPs, web hosters, search engines) and respect of privacy. Third parties shall not receive IP addresses and further, personal information of users without any judicial oversight whatsoever.

Law boffin Dr Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the Univeristy of Ottawa, attended the PublicACTA conference and held a rather insightful presentation. He recently bashed the EU's ACTA delegate Luc Devigne. Devigne has been saying ACTA is nothing to worry about, would Dr. Geist and everyone please bother someone else. Devigne stated ACTA would not introduce Three Strikes legislation to the rest of the EU.

 

ACTA is currently being negotiated in secret meetings by the European Commission, the United States, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Switzerland. It is feared ACTA will introduce a legal basis to censor the internet under the smoke screen of copyright infringement, as well as introduce widespread retention of user data. For instance, access to whistleblowing website Wikileaks.org could be blocked, if it were to host infringing (and not only damning) content.

The Wellington Declaration can be signed here.