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Scholars Say International Property Accord Needs Senate Approval

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Coverups, intellectual property: More than 70 academics, mostly legal scholars, are urging President Barack Obama to open a proposed international intellectual-property agreement to public review before signing it.

The likely route for that is bringing the ACTA agreement to the Senate for ratification.

The deal, known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (.pdf), according to many critics, favors big media at the expense of the general public. And the intellectual property accord, which Obama could sign by year's end, has pretty much been hammered out in secret between the European Union, Japan, the United States and a few other international players, including Canada and Australia. Noticeably absent is China.

That said, these academics suggested that Obama does not have the authority to unilaterally sign the accord, which has been in the works for three years and is nearly final. Instead, they said, it should be considered a treaty, necessitating two-thirds Senate approval.

“That would open this up to public debate," Christopher Jon Sprigman, a University of Virginia School of Law scholar who signed the letter, said in a telephone interview.

However, we tend to agree with Mike Masnick over at techdirt, who suggests the letter won't “make much of a difference."

Scholars Jack Goldsmith and Lawrence Lessig said the U.S. Supreme Court has sent mixed signals when it comes to the chief executive's power in this area.


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