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You are here: Home FSF News Tell the USTR to reject ACTA

Tell the USTR to reject ACTA

by Brett Smith Contributions Published on Feb 11, 2011 10:25 AM
The ACTA drafting process is finished, and countries are beginning to turn an eye toward signing it. Help us stand against it!

ACTA aims to be an international agreement to establish even more imposing copyright and trademark laws throughout the world, with a minimum of scrutiny. Countries that sign the agreement commit to enacting DMCA-like anti-circumvention legislation, establishing criminal penalties for specific kinds of infringement, and maintaining several overbearing enforcement mechanisms.

ACTA was largely drafted in secret between countries with the world's largest economies, with input from large copyright and trademark holders who stand to benefit from all this legislation at our expense. As more information about the terms of the agreement began to leak, we published Richard Stallman's "Firm, Simple Declaration Against ACTA" and accompanying essay. Since then, more than 4,700 of you have signed it. Thanks for your support!

Now the drafting process is finished, and the countries who negotiated it are now looking to sign it. Some of the provisions in the final text are not as bad as earlier drafts—but that doesn't mean the agreement is acceptable. We need to take this opportunity to demand the freedoms we deserve. As Stallman explained:

... where there have been previous changes for the worse, lauding the status quo tends to legitimize them. ... To confront a further assault by presenting the status quo as ideal means we stop fighting to reverse them. It means that our adversaries need only propose a further affront to our rights to gain our acceptance of their last affront.

Instead of making the status quo our ideal, we should demand positive changes to recover freedoms already lost.

The US Trade Representative is requesting comments from US citizens and organizations about signing ACTA. Now, we've added your voice to ours. The FSF has submitted a letter encouraging the US, and all countries, to reject the agreement and instead focus on repealing copyright and trademark laws that unfairly support large owners, citing the 4,700 signatures that Stallman's declaration received. You can help even more:

  • If you haven't already, please sign the declaration. The USTR may check to verify the number of signatures we mentioned in our letter. It would be great if we have even more when that happens!

  • Share this call to action with your friends, and on social sites. We need all the help we can get.

  • If you're a US citizen, you can write to the USTR as well. Comments are due by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on February 15. Follow the USTR's instructions to submit your comments. Please send a copy of your letter to us at, too, so we can keep track of the response.

    We've included a brief sample letter below to help you get started. Of course, it's best if you write your own letter: unique responses will receive more attention from the USTR. Use this sample as inspiration to help structure your own thoughts.

ACTA threatens to create major legal obstacles to free software throughout the world. Please join us by expressing your opposition!

Sample Letter

Stanford K. McCoy
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20006

Re: Comments on ACTA (Docket no. USTR-2010-0014)

Dear Mr. McCoy:

I am writing to urge the United States not to sign ACTA. The agreement would impose unethically strict extensions to copyright law in other countries, and increased criminal penalties for infringement here. It mandates a number of enforcement mechanisms that unjustly benefit copyright and trademark holders at the expense of individual liberties. It would also create new obstacles to repealing problematic US laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Now that computers are available to many, it's easier than ever for people to share information and cultural works with each other. Our laws should allow and encourage them to do so. We stand to benefit from less enforcement of copyright and trademark laws—not more. ACTA is a step in the wrong direction. No country should sign it.


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