In the movie The Godfather, Marlon Brando, playing the Don, is approached on the day of his daughter's wedding by his godson Johhny Fontane, a singer who wants a movie role. The head of the studio won't give Fontane the role, so the Don to Johnny: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." He does, and Johnny gets the part. A number of countries appear in danger of being offers they can't refuse too. One such offer is ACTA, the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Wikileaks has provided a discussion paper on the agreement that was provided to selected (pro-ACTA) groups. See wiki story and links to documents here. (In a wonderful show of independence, Wikinews posted an entry alleging the Wikipedia Foundation Board was trying to censor their reporting on other issues; see here.).
The document provides few details, but it is the very lack of transparency that is a concern to me. The concern is centered on agreements being hashed out in private, among a small select group of believers, and then presented on what is in reality a take it or leave it basis. As IP Justice put is in their story on the issue:
After the multi-lateral treaty’s scope and priorities are negotiated by the few countries invited to participate in the early discussions, ACTA’s text will be “locked” and other countries who are later “invited” to sign-on to the pact will not be able to re-negotiate its terms. It is claimed that signing-on to the trade agreement will be "voluntary", but few countries will have the muscle to refuse an “invitation” to join, once the rules have been set by the select few conducting the negotiations.
The important issues raised by such an agreement should be subject to legislative hearings at the outset, in which all interests can participate, before the agreement is "locked." There are reports the agreement will be on the agenda July's meeting of G-8 nations in Tokyo; non G-8 countries, including Israel, should be put on notice that they too may soon receive an offer they can't refuse. But what about G-8 countries like Canada, which have been criticized by the United States government and by IIPA, and which is about to introduce copyright reform legislation? What happens if the current government signs on to ACTA in July? These are issues known only to the Canadian government, and as a non-Canadian, it is not my place to offer advice, but ACTA does introduce more complications into an already complicated situation and not only for Canada.