If you were drawing up anti-piracy legislation that was going to be global there would be a few countries that you would aim to get on the treaty.
Near the top of the list there would have to be China, which is seen by many as one of the main places counterfeit copies of software originate from. There are of course other countries which have bad reputations but certainly you would want to get the Chinese on board from the word go.
The list of the 37 countries that have signed up to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a long and impressive one including the UK, US, Japan and Australia. But it is light on Asian states and although those involved are patting themselves on the back there is a long way to go.
In principle the idea of ACTA is very sound. If you flagrantly disregard intellectual property then the copyright holder will be able to pursue the criminal through the courts to get damages. Countries will respect IP and be on the side of those that earn a living from the sweat of their creative brows.
But a global agreement needs to be just that and loop holes are going to make it very difficult to enforce and really get a change in criminal behaviour.
A lot of those working in the fight against software piracy will talk of a mentality that seems to sweep through some places in regard to IP where acknowledgment of it as important is almost non existent.
ACTA has the power to change that but it needs to be global, respected and feared and so those involved have a lot more work to do before the champagne can be opened and the backs slapped.
This was first published in October 2010