The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was signed by Poland, a day after widespread protests were held in the country against the agreement, according to the Associated Press.
ACTA is an international trade pact that shares similarities with the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was temporarily shelved after online giants such as Google and Wikipedia mounted protests with petitions and blackouts.
Poland’s ambassador to Japan, Jadwiga Rodowicz-Czechowska, signed the agreement in Tokyo, along with other European Union members such as Finland, France, Ireland, Italy and Greece.
The United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea are among the countries that signed ACTA last year, according to the BBC.
The protests against ACTA were most prominent in Poland, where online activists hacked government websites, including the website of the prime minister, parliament and other government offices, reported the BBC.
Negotiations over ACTA were mostly conducted in secrecy, with WikiLeaks documents published by the Guardian in 2009 showing Swedish representatives concerned about “the refusal to make ACTA documents public [becoming] an excellent political tool around which to build speculation about the political intent behind the negotiations.”
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Criticisms of ACTA are similar to those against SOPA, with opponents suggesting it would stifle the freedom of expression. Another big concern seems to be the vagueness of the laws, and how they might be interpreted by different countries. CNNMoney noted that ACTA combines counterfeiting and piracy as if they are similar offenses. “Copyright holders (movie studios, record labels, etc.) often try to meld anti-piracy measures with those aimed at counterfeiting, which are usually less controversial.”
Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski sought to allay fears, but stated, “We believe that theft on a massive scale of intellectual property is not a good thing," reported the AP.
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