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FSF organizes against Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

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OSS

Nobody knows yet what the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will consist of, but the few available indications are so ominous that the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has started a campaign to raise public awareness of the possibilities. According to Matt Lee, an FSF campaign manager, ACTA threatens to "create a culture of fear and suspicion," and, in the worst-case scenario, undermine and demonize free software.

ACTA is a treaty being negotiated by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States. Despite the name, the treaty's main concern is not just the protection of brand names against generic knock-offs, but also the protection of so-called intellectual property, and would therefore probably include both computer hardware or software.

The trouble is that, because negotiations are secret, exactly what ACTA will cover and its proposed provisions are mostly unknown. However, a document entitled "Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement," written in October 2007 and uploaded to WikiLeaks on 22 May, 2008 seems ample reason for alarm.

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