Greens push for transparency on secret anti-piracy talks

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Greens push for transparency on secret anti-piracy talks

International copyright negotiations urged to go public.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has called on Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to take details of international anti-piracy negotiations public.

Australia is currently a party to talks on the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which aims to harmonise intellectual property (IP) law enforcement throughout participating countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the European Commission.

So far, terms of the ACTA have notoriously been kept under wraps.

DFAT has attempted to provide some transparency in the form of a brief explanation on its web site, but the contents of the discussions remain confidential.

Ludlam said a more transparent process would enable Australia to better assess the potential impact of the agreement on domestic law.

"My main objective at the moment is to get a bit of transparancy in the negotiations process," Ludlam told iTnews.

"Parliament does not get to see the treaty until it is presented to be signed ... transparency would mean intervention at an earlier point."

Ludlam was on the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which assessed the 2005 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement that required Australia to offer stronger protection to US intellectual property.

The ACTA could see such terms extended to all participating countries, including those that do not already have agreements with the US.

Last month, leaked ACTA documents indicated that the agreement would force ISPs to take greater responsibility for the activities of their subscribers. The proposals included fines and imprisonment, non-commercial file sharing and increasing reliability of ISPs.

DFAT denied that Australia would adopt a "three strikes" rule as was passed in France last year, which would see ISPs cut off subscribers that were found to have shared copyright protected files on more than two occasions.

"All that's on the record at the moment is that innocuous negotiations are going on," Ludlam said.

"There's been so little information in the public domain as to what they're doing. I don't think there are any benefits to having the negotiations behind closed doors if they are in the public interest."

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