Mexico: The Government Signed ACTA While Mexicans Were Asleep

The Mexican government signed on to ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Japan…in the middle of the night in Mexico.

ACTA aims to combat counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property (copyrighted works, trademarked goods, patented medicines, etc.) by imposing a series of restrictions on the use of digital communications technologies. The agreement includes restrictions on file-sharing, the fair use of copyrighted materials, and a great variety of activities related to freedom of speech and information. The law also affects privacy, as it includes measures to identify users when materials protected under copyright are obtained illegally.

The agreement includes controls to the exchange of archives, the fair use of copyright material, and a great variety of activities related to freedom of speech and information. The law also affects privacy, since it includes measures to identify users in case a copyright or protected intellectual property is obtained illegally.

The agreement has stirred a lot of controversy and indignation in the European Union. Many protests and demonstrations against ACTA had a powerful effect on European lawmakers; days before Mexico signed, the European Union Parliament voted against the agreement. It seems unlikely that any European state will ratify the agreement.

The blog Derecho informático [es] extracted the following summary from the official press release published by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property:

Este Acuerdo, firmado por el Embajador de México en Japón [...] pretende una mejor protección internacional de los derechos de propiedad intelectual de los mexicanos, atraer nuevas inversiones, asegurar las fuentes de trabajo ya existentes e incrementar la creación de empleos formales, así como fomentar la creatividad, la innovación y la competitividad de nuestras empresas.

This Agreement, signed by the Mexican Ambassador to Japan [...], aims to improve the international protection of the intellectual property rights of Mexicans, attract new investments, secure existing jobs and increase the creation of more formal jobs, and foster creativity, innovation and competition among our companies.

Mexican netizens showed their outrage for the signature on social networks and online forums. The hashtag #ACTA became a trending topic on the afternoon following the vote. Most complain that the federal government acted against the will of the people and of the Senate itself, as Pepe Flores mentioned in the blog Alt1040 [es]:

No ha importado la oposición del Senado ni la abrumadora respuesta pública. No importó el grupo de trabajo, ni las sesiones, ni el trabajo de cientos de personas. El gobierno federal lo ha mandado al diablo, sin miramientos. ACTA está de vuelta.

The Senate's objection [es] didn't matter, nor did the overwhelming public outcry. The working group, sessions, and the effort of thousands of people didn't matter. The federal government has disregarded everything with disdain. ACTA is back.

The blog Sopitas [es] offered an explanation of what the law could mean for the freedom of citizens:

1. Se creará un aparato internacional que persiga la violación de los derechos de autor, sea cual sea la naturaleza del producto falsificado.

2. Este aparato compartirá información internacional y comprometerá a cada país, aún pese a sus leyes internas, a seguir los protocolos de ACTA. También permitirá la creación de asistencia técnica que internacionalmente vigilará al mundo digital.

3. Destruirá toda producción que viole los derechos del autor y no permitirá su paso, aun cuando sea de forma individual, entre aduanas.

4. Solicitará a los Proveedores de Servicios de Internet (ISP) que vigilen las comunicaciones de sus usuarios. Los ISP no tendrán alternativa.

5. Cada país deberá fijar las penas de sus infractores, estas pueden ir desde la cárcel hasta multas ejemplares.

6. Modificará la noción de “uso justo” de material protegido por copyright (regularizará los materiales que se distribuyen con fines informativos, como demos, fragmentos de libros o artículos académicos, videos, etc.).

7. Criminalizará el uso compartido de archivos en línea a través de protocolos Peer to Peer.

8. Limitará el acceso a medicamentos de bajo costo en países en vías de desarrollo.

9. Limitará el uso para los agricultores de semillas patentadas.

1. An international body will be created to prosecute the violation of copyright no matter the kind of product was forged.
2. This body will share international information and will commit each country, no matter their local laws, to follow ACTA protocols. It will also allow the creation of technical assistance that will monitor the digital world.
3. It will destroy any sort of production that violates copyright and will not allow its import, even if it's made individually, between customs officials.
4. It will ask Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to monitor communications among their users. The ISP will have no choice.
5. Each country will set the penalties for their offenders, which can go from jail time to high fines.
6. It will modify the notion of “fair use” of protected copyright material (it will regulate the materials that are distributed with the intention to inform, such as demos, book excerpts or academic articles, videos, etc.).
7. It will make it a crime to share archives online through the use of Peer to Peer protocols.
8. It will limit access to low cost medicines in developing countries.
9. It will limit the use of patented seeds by farmers.

Meanwhile, on Twitter users exchanged information, criticism and suppositions about the Agreement.

“ACTA: A threat to world public order”. Image by Geoffrey Dorne, under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Digital journal Sin Embargo (@SinEmbargoMX) [es] pointed out:

@SinEmbargoMX: El Senado le dijo NO; la misma Cofetel dijo NO; Europa dijo NO; y al gobierno federal le vale: firmó #ACTA‬ http://goo.gl/bK41H

@SinEmbargoMX [es]: The Senate said NO; the Cofetel itself said NO; Europe said NO; but the federal government doesn't care: it signed #ACTA http://goo.gl/bK41H [es]

Senator Javier Castellón Fonseca in his account (@CastellonNay) [es] said:

@CastellonNay: En secreto lo negociaron, en secreto lo firmaron con la oposicion del senado. No al ACTA, nuevamente

@CastellonNay [es]: They negotiated it secretly; they signed it secretly and with the Senate's opposition. No to ACTA, again

The Twitter account for Stop-ACTA (@PostActa) clarified:

@PostActa: Mexican Senate will need to ratify #ACTA‬ still. Alas, they'd instructed a year ago (july 20th,2011) to NOT even sign it

While the lawyer @Durden [es] spoke about what Mexicans need to worry about regarding ACTA:

@Durden: La discusión de #ACTA‬ no es el pago de regalías a los autores, es el ilegal rastreo de las IP's y la posibilidad de fincar responsabilidades

@Durden [es]: The objective of #ACTA‬ is not the payment of royalties to authors, it is the illegal tracking of IPs and the possibility of assigning legal liability

User @AnaPatricia_C [es] defended:

@AnaPatricia_C: Los derechos de autor deben ser protegidos, pero así mismo deben ser protegidos los derechos de privacidad de los ciudadanos #ACTA‬

@AnaPatricia_C [es]: Author's rights should be protected, but also citizens’ right to privacy should be protected too. #ACTA‬

On the other hand, blogger El Menos Peor (@ElMenosPeor2012) [es] conjectured:

@ElMenosPeor2012: Dicen que lo de #ACTA‬ es una treta para que se nos olvide el cochinero de las elecciones. Aquí les vamos a informar de las dos NO OLVIDAMOS.

@ElMenosPeor2012 [es]: They say that #ACTA‬ is a ruse for us to forget the mess that were the elections. We will inform you about both, WE DON'T FORGET

Finally, iSkywalker (@Geekyland) [es] concluded:

@Geekyland: Aunque no se mucho de política, siento que este gobierno se esta ganando una pinche revolución. #ACTA‬ / Error 404 democracy not found

@Geekyland [es]: Even though I don't know much about politics, I feel this government is asking a damn revolution. #ACTA‬ / Error 404 democracy not found

Some netizens called for a protest against the approval of ACTA for Saturday, July 14 in several cities. You can read more reactions under the hashtags #ACTA‬ or #IMPI [es].

6 comments

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  • [...] メキシコ上下院両議会は2012年7月18日に採択した決議で、条約「ACTA」へのメキシコの署名を無効化するよう、同国の新大統領エンリケ・ペニャニエトに要請した。同条約については、メキシコ上院と電気通信委員会がその条文について強く拒否(英語)していたにもかかわらず、この否決に先立つ1週間前に、駐日メキシコ大使クロド・ヘレル(英語)が署名していた。 ottodv による ACTA 抗議画像。 CC-BY-SA。 [...]


  • [...] Agreement. Mexico’s Ambassador to Japan, Claude Heller, signed the treaty on July 11 despite criticism by Mexico’s Senate that the treaty’s set of international online copyright laws could restrict [...]


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