Brussels/The Hague

Today at a stakeholder hearing in the European Parliament, IFLA’s Director of Policy & Advocacy, Stuart Hamilton, raised severe concerns about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Libraries are concerned that the non-transparent ACTA negotiations pose a threat to the balance of copyright, Hamilton stressed in his video message. ACTA’s objectives and methods endanger the balance of copyright, and seriously conflict with the library community’s commitments to equitable access to information and cultural expression.

IFLA is gravely concerned by the extreme secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations, the potentially chilling effects of targeting intermediaries, and the continuing focus on enforcement at the expense of flexibility", he said. "We have made far less progress in creating flexibility in copyright – particularly in the digital age. ACTA compounds the problem by limiting flexibility going forward – at this point we have no ideas what technologies are going to emerge in the next decade and ACTA will lock us into an approach that is not suitable for now, let alone the future."

ACTA is a proposed international agreement aimed at creating a stronger framework for global enforcement of intellectual property rights. The provisions in ACTA go beyond the current internationally-agreed standards in the TRIPs Agreement. Negotiations started in 2007. The agreement has already been signed by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the United States and by all European Union Member States except Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia, Germany and the Netherlands.

In the European Union, the European Parliament has to give its consent before ACTA can enter into force. The Stakeholder Hearing has been initiated by Marietje Schaake and Ivailo Kalfin, Members of the European Parliament, as part of their decision making process.

It is expected that their decision about ACTA will be taken in July.

Watch the full video message by Stuart Hamilton