New round of negotiations on ACTA: EU position

By EDRi · January 27, 2010

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Deutsch: [Neue ACTA-Verhandlungsrunde: Die Haltung der EU |]

A new round of negotiations on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)
is taking place from 26 to 29 January 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico. As
announced by some countries participating in the event the main topics of
the new negotiations are: civil enforcement, border measures and
enforcement procedures in the digital environment. Transparency is also on
the agenda, but only for one hour during the last day, proving the
importance given to this subject.

As explained by FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) and
EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Foundation the latest EU document leaked
suggests the EU would prefer ACTA to mirror existing EU legislation. This is
confirmed by the statement of the designated Commissioner for Digital Agenda
who said during the hearing in the European Parliament: “There has been a
first proposal tabled by the United States. For the Commission, the
objective of the negotiations is that our international partners guarantee
the same level of protection of IP rights as the EU currently applies. There
will be no harmonization via the back-door. We stick to the line they have
to move to our side and that’s it.”

Professor Annette Kur of the Max Planck Institute in Munich pointed out in
a presentation last December that “Exporting EU-style enforcement
legislation to foreign trading partners is an (un)official goal of EU

FFII explains that ACTA might look like the recently EU-Korea free trade
agreement, meaning harsh anti-counterfeiting measures against patent
infringements, which are often complex and of unclear validity. “Applied to
patents, we believe these could well threaten companies that produce
software, companies that use software, and free software projects alike. And
the “safe harbours” for online hosting providers proposed by the agreement
are no safe harbours at all. We believe these are the kind of regulations
that Europe is proposing exporting to the world. ”

La Quadrature du Net also thinks that ACTA wants to impose extra-judicial
“voluntary” agreements between ISPs and rights holders to combat copyright
infringements through “three strikes” schemes or automated content filtering
or removal. To force Internet operators into accepting such access
restrictions, ACTA will make them liable for the copyright infringements of
their users.

Consumers International issued a Joint Declaration on ACTA explaining that
the new international agreement will authorize border guards to search
laptops and MP3 players and to seize them if they contain material that
could seem to infringe copyright. The agreement could also introduce new
criminal sanctions for copyright infringements, including sanctions for
certain uses of the Internet that previously were not criminalized.

The new Spanish movement Red SOStenible called ACTA the Damocles sword
at the world level against the civil rights in the digital era.

In the meantime, several MEPs are trying to get more information from the
European institutions on this topic.

Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, Germany) has tabled a detailed set of questions on
the issue of ACTA. The questions vary between ones that will elicit answers
that have been given already (such as regarding transparency and
availability of the documents), questions that can be easily dodged (when is
a conclusion expected and will the Internet be covered) and ones that are
much more probing. He asks, for example, if and why issues not related to
counterfeiting are covered and if substantive intellectual property law will
change as a result of ACTA.

Perhaps the most interesting question is “what benefit would accrue” for
Europe if, as certain US officials have said, the agreement does not impose
new obligations on the United States. The recent statements by
Commissioners-designate De Gucht and Kroes that EU law will not change as a
result of ACTA makes the answer to this particular question particularly

Britta Thomsen (S&D, Denmark) tabled a similar question to both Commission
and Council, with a specific query as to whether recitals 30 and 31 of the
“telecom package” (by which, she presumably means Directive 2009/136/EC,
amending the e-privacy and universal service Directives) will be adequately
respected by ACTA.

Blogging ACTA Across The Globe: FFII’s Ante Wessels on Exporting Europe’s
Flaws (26.01.2010)

European Union’s Comments to the US Proposal Special Requirements Related to
the Enforcements of IPRs in the Digital Environment (29.10.2009)

ACTA Agenda – Round 7 (26-29.01.2010)

Enforcing European Intellectual Property Rights in Europe and in Third
Countries – The Quest for Balance (12.2009)!menu/standard/file/Kur%2C%20Max%20Planck.pdf

ACTA Attacks Internet! Let’s Attack ACTA! (25.01.2010)

Consumers International: Joint Declaration on ACTA

(North)american friends are needed (only in Spanish, 25.01.2010)

Written Question by Alexander Alvaro (ALDE) to the Commission (22.01.2010)

Written Question by Britta Thomsen (S&D) to the Council (21.01.2010)

EDRi-gram: IP Chapter in the EU-Korea free trade agreement essentially
flawed (13.01.2010)