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Mexico: ACTA Public Hearings Kick Off

The controversial Anti-Counterfeit Commercial Agreement –widely known as ACTA–  is currently under discussion in the Mexican Senate in response to opposition from civil society to the way the treaty's negotiation process is being conducted.

ACTA in México

Blogs are publishing stories about ACTA from different perspectives. Conrado Romo [es], a blogger at Critica Pura, writes:

ACTA es más que un simple tratado, es más que una discusión sobre piratería y propiedad intelectual, es más que un tema centrado en la industria y los derechos de los usuarios de Internet, ACTA (no como tratado, sino como fenómeno) es la lucha entre dos modelos de civilización, uno que se está gestando y otro que está muriendo.

ACTA is more than a simple treaty, it’s more than a discussion about piracy and intellectual property, it’s more than an issue centered on the industry and internet users. ACTA (not as a treaty but as phenomena) is the struggle between two models of civilization, one that is emerging and one that is dying

Rodrigo Camarena in the Nexos blog [es] points out:

Como varios han argumentado, la piratería en México deriva en gran parte de la informalidad de nuestra economía, del alto nivel de corrupción en el país, y por estas razones se debe de combatir dentro de los ámbitos respectivos. La insuficiencia de los argumentos a favor del ACTA nos obliga a preguntarnos: ¿Exactamente qué hace México participando en estas negociaciones?

As many have argued, piracy in Mexico is derived in a great deal from the informality of our economy, high index of corruption in the country, and for these reasons it must be combated in its respective realms. The insufficiency of the arguments in favor of ACTA force us to ask: Exactly what is Mexico doing participating in these negotiations?

Public Hearings

The Mexican Senate created a legislative commission [es] last November whose main goal is to offer more transparency regarding information about the treaty and the discussion, as well as making sure the treaty is in accordance with fundamental and constitutional rights. Before making a decision on whether to adopt or reject ACTA in Mexico, the Senate is holding public hearings in order to hear the positions and arguments from different sectors of civil society, lobbying groups, academics and Internet services providers.

During the first session, the negotiation group led by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) revealed their reasons for joining ACTA. The complete video of the session is available on You Tube in Spanish.

A few weeks later, La Quadrature du Net released diplomatic cables related to ACTA with information about IMPI's petition to the United States to include Mexico in the negotiations.

Jenaro Villamil writes in his blog:

A cambio de responder a la agenda norteamericana antipiratería, el gobierno mexicano pidió cooperación estadounidense, sobre todo en materia de asesoría en temas de patentes, tecnología y asesoría legal.

In exchange for supporting the North American anti-piracy agenda, the Mexican government asked for US cooperation, mostly in the areas of patents, technology and legal advice.

In light of this information, the second session of the ACTA working group was held in order to hear citizen's positions. It is important to mention that many of these citizens were involved in the #internetnecesario (necessary internet) movement that previously prevented a new tax on internet connection services.

Alejandro Pisanty [es] from Mexico's Internet Society was the first speaker:

La capacidad de la red para soportar culaquier invento o mecanismo de comunicacion y de transladar rapidamente los contenidos sin importar cual es su origen, han sido parte de la explosión creativa que caracteriza a internet [.] Internet es la mantra – literalmente –  de la innovación sin pedir permiso [.] que no puede ser detenida más que a un costo inaceptable para la sociedad.

The capability of the net to support any invention or communication mechanism and of transporting content fast without caring about its origin has been part of the creative explosion that characterizes de internet[.] Internet is -literally- the mantra of innovation without permission [.] That can’t be stopped except at a price that is unacceptable to society.

Antonio Martínez from OpenACTA said [es]:

Discutir el contenido de ACTA ya no es la virtuosa opción que representaba hace unos meses porque una parte de las partes involucradas, es decir los negociadores  del ejecutivo, carecen de la legitimidad para hablar con los ciudadanos que han traicionado

Discussing the content of ACTA isn’t the wonderful option that it represented a few months ago anymore, because one of the involved parties, I am referring to the negotiators of the executive (power), lack the legitimacy to talk with the citizens they have betrayed

Most of the people in the public meeting expressed their request to not sign the treaty.

The third session, held on February 23, featured academics and experts, intellectual property lawyers and lobbyist from the entertainment industry.

León Felipe Sánchez [es], an academic from the National University and Creative Commons México, told the Senators that they should not legitimize an illegal act from the executive power. Similarly, Juan Pablo Pampillo [es], from the renowned Escuela Libre de Derecho, recommended legislators to not subscribe to ACTA.

On the other hand, Jaime Campos [es] from the Association for the Protection of Film and Music considered it necessary for Mexico to sign ACTA in order to protect the creators. In a similar fashion, lawyer Mauricio Jaliffe [es] said that Mexico is not in a position to question the intellectual property legislation and suggested that ACTA must be enforced to protect author's rights in the country.

Professor Mariana Meneses [es] brought the attention to new models of microfunding and open licenses.

In the next session, to be held today, March 2, the telecommunications sector and corporate lobbying groups will present their positions towards the treaty. The agenda of the working group can be found here [es] and the Senate also set up this form [es] to receive comments about ACTA before making a decision.

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