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Thread: US, EU, Can., Japan, Australia, Others to Sign ACTA Into Law, Ignore Constitution

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    US, EU, Can., Japan, Australia, Others to Sign ACTA Into Law, Ignore Constitution

    What is ACTA, you ask? http://www.eff.org/issues/acta

    "Despite serious Constitutional concerns in the US, and significant legal questions in the EU, it appears that the US and the EU, along with most of the other participants in the ACTA negotiations are planning to sign ACTA this weekend in Japan. In the US, this may very well lead to a Constitutional challenge. President Obama, via the USTR, is ignoring the Senate's oversight concerning treaties, by pretending ACTA is not a treaty, but rather an "executive agreement." Pretty much everyone else agrees that ACTA is a binding treaty -- in fact, EU negotiators have been quite vocal on that point.

    But even if this is considered "an executive agreement," the President does not have the authority to sign an executive agreement concerning intellectual property issues. Executive agreements can only be signed if they cover issues solely under the President's mandate. But intellectual property issues are clearly under Congress's mandate, and nowhere in the Constitution is the President given a mandate over IP issues. This is a clear end-run around Congress, and seems likely to be unconstitutional.

    What I really don't get is why they're making such an end-run. As we've seen with things like PROTECT IP, most of the Senate seems to have no problem propping up the entertainment industry's legacy players with bogus laws and "greater enforcement." It seems likely that ACTA would probably sail through the Senate with little problem. But the administration seems to not even want to have the slightest debate on the topic -- which is greatly troubling, considering that the USTR negotiated the agreement in near total secrecy, refusing to allow public comment or debate (outside of leaks which it tried to block) until after the document was done.

    The others that are listed as planning to sign the document are Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. Basically all the countries who took part in the negotiations. The fact that Mexico is on that list is interesting, given that the Mexican Congress has already told the Mexican President that it will not ratify ACTA, and made it clear that Mexico needs Congress to ratify ACTA to have it go into effect. In other words, it sounds like Mexico is facing a similar executive run-around as in the US.

    It's pretty amazing. This isn't even just about Presidents doing an end-run around the public, but around their own legislatures. And for what? A bailout of some legacy entertainment industry players who are unwilling to adapt."

    Original article & comments @ http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...concerns.shtml



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    Today's the day!

    "While the EU, Mexico and Switzerland are apparently not yet ready to sign ACTA, a lot of others are apparently planning to sign the document this weekend, despite questions about its legality. Because of that Sean Flynn has written up an analysis suggesting that, even if the document is signed it's not clear that the treaty can actually go into effect anywhere. Whether or not that's accurate, what I wanted to focus on was a separate tidbit of info suggesting that, while the Obama administration is very much aware of the very serious Constitutional questions raised by the signing, it's going to issue a "signing statement" that defends its right to ignore the Constitution here.

    In the US, there is no plan to constitutionally ratify the agreement. Indeed, this will likely be the main focus of the US signing statement. The document will be an argument to Congress that the executive can pass this agreement alone – legally binding the US to a trade agreement without no congressional authorization – because, according to the Executive, ACTA is fully consistent with current US law.

    Thus, the administration argues that there doesn't need to be a Senate review because no laws will be changed. This is, of course, wrong, since ACTA (1) does not align itself fully with US laws and (2) massively constrains Congress's ability to change certain intellectual property laws in the future. Furthermore, this basic argument is ridiculous. The President is only allowed to sign executive agreements that cover items solely under the President's mandate. Intellectual property is not. It's clearly given to Congress under the Constitution.

    Of course, I'm quite curious as to how the Administration, with Joe Biden as VP, can defend this action. After all, as well chronicled, when Joe Biden was still Senator Biden in 2002, he went ballistic against then-President George W. Bush for trying to sign an arms control agreement with Russia as an executive agreement, rather than a treaty with Senate ratification. He actually sent a letter to the President demanding that the agreement be submitted as a treaty for ratification in the Senate. The letter apparently "defend[ed] the institutional prerogatives of the Senate." Of course, if we had any real reporters out there who actually asked the administration real questions, they might question this obvious hypocrisy within the administration. But, instead, expect almost no one to cover this story."

    Original article with comments @ http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...ing-acta.shtml



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