03 November 2008

ACTA of Hypocrisy

I've written several times about the mysterious Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is currently being negotiated behind closed doors, with little or no input from proles like you and me. Despite efforts to present us with a fait accompli, it seems that the Very Important People who are working on this are getting slightly rattled by the increasing criticism of both the process and the likely result.

For the fine site Digital Majority has managed to get its mitts on a leaked document put together by the European Commission in a desperate attempt to head off that growing discontent.

You can read the whole thing here, as well as Digital Majority's useful analysis. Basically, it's a case of the lady protesting too much: earnestly assuring us that it doesn't intend to bring in a shopping list of legal nasties - criminalisation of infringement, summary injunctions for those *suspected* of infringing, "three strikes and you're out", etc. - but convincing no one.

But what caught my attention were the closing words of this sad little document:

Fake medicines are reckoned to account for almost 10% of world trade in medicines. Most of these fake drugs are headed for the world’s poorest countries.

Riiiiiiiiiiiight. And why, might one ask, are the world's poorest countries buying all those fake drugs? It couldn't possibly be because of the high prices demanded by the owners of the relevant patents on the "real" thing? And it couldn't possible be the case that much of the counterfeiting this treaty aims to expurgate is caused precisely by those self-same intellectual monopolies?

And yet, strangely, getting rid of monopolies is something that the people working so feverishly on ACTA simply cannot contemplate - despite all the economic evidence that it is the solution to so many of the the problems they claim to be addressing.

Counterfeiting bad, monopolies good.

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