Feds tip ACTA analysis by year end

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Feds tip ACTA analysis by year end

Will they wait for copyright inquiry to conclude?

The Federal Government expects to take receipt of an independent cost-benefit analysis for the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by the end of the year.

iTnews reported in August that federal trade minister Craig Emerson would accept a Joint Select Committees on Treaties (JSCOT) recommendation to perform an analysis before potential ratification of the ACTA.

"In view of the concerns raised by the Committee, the Government has commissioned an analysis of the economic and social benefits and costs to Australian business, the not-for-profit sector and the community that would result from the ratification of ACTA," the Government said in its formal response to the JSCOT's report. (pdf)

"This analysis is expected to be completed by the end of 2012".

The Government "agreed in part" to the conservative approach to ratification proposed by the Committee.

It has ultimately agreed to give the Committee a chance to make further input based on the results of the analysis due at the end of this year.

"The Government intends to consider ratification of ACTA following the receipt of the analysis ... but would.also consider any further, timely, recommendations ofJSCOT as part of that consideration," it said.

It also published clarification of the meaning of certain terms in the draft treaty, such as "aiding and abetting" and "commercial scale", noting for the former that it "be given a meaning in accordance with customary rules of interpretation of public international law".

Where it appeared to differ from the Committee was on the recommendation that it wait for the outcome of the Australian Law Reform Commission's copyright inquiry before potentially ratifying the ACTA.

The Commission has until November 30 next year to issue its findings on the local copyright environment.

"ACTA allows considerable flexibility in its implementation," the Government noted. "Australia would retain considerable flexibility to modify its laws on copyright while still meeting its obligations under ACTA."

The Government has also partially agreed to take into account the position of other "relevant jurisdictions" when making a call on ratification.

"In considering whether to ratify ACTA, the Government will make its decision based on an assessment of Australian national interests," it stated.

"This assessment would include, among other factors, consideration of events related to ACTA in the European Union, the United States and other relevant jurisdictions."

The Government continued to maintain its long-held position that ratification required no changes to Australian laws or regulations.

The Committee welcomed the Government's response.

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