ACTA: the hot copyright treaty surrounded by secrecy

By EDRi · February 10, 2010

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Deutsch: [ACTA: Umstrittenes Urheberrechts-Abkommen im Nebel |]

The secrecy on the closed international agreement on Intellectual Property
issues – ACTA – is making everyone suspicious on the content of the new
treaty, which could contain dangerous legislation for digital civil rights.

After the end of talks on ACTA in Mexico, there was little information on
the actual topics discussed and issues to be adopted. Some countries
just qualified the discussions as “productive”, while others such as New
Zealand and Sweden left more information out, such as the fact that the
talks included debates on anti-circumvention legislation or that the
Europeans are pushing for an extension to patents of ACTA, besides copyright
and trademark that are already covered.

In the meantime, the number of concerned voices within the European
Parliament continues to grow. MEP Alex Voss (DE, PPE) from Germany asked on
the ACTA impact on Amendment 138 as it was adopted in the Telecom package,
a topic reiterated by MEP Christian Engstrom (SWE, Greens).

Other MEPs are also using their websites in order to express their concerns
on the new international treaty. The French MEP Francoise Castex is asking
why the European Commission does not share the text of the ACTA with the
European Parliament and what would be the role of ISPs in the new treaty.
And the Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala is raising a similar point, explaining
that after the new Lisbon treaty the European Parliament needs to be
informed in all stages about all the international treaty that the European
Union is negotiating.

The European Commission (EC) is trying to minimize the concerns. In a
declaration to EurActiv, an EC official, that declined to be named due to a
non-disclosure agreement, considered “media reports were oversimplifying
the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)”.

In an answer to one of the MEPs question, EC also declined any infringement
of human rights through the present treaty:
“The Commission can inform the Honourable Member that the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be in line with the body of
EU legislation, which fully respects fundamental rights and freedoms and
civil liberties, such as the protection of personal data. This includes the
Intellectual Property Rights’ relevant aspects of the Telecoms package.

ACTA should not contain measures restricting end-users’ access to the
internet that would not be appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a
democratic society and without a prior, fair and impartial procedure.”

According to official information, the next meeting would be hosted by New
Zealand in April 2010 and the treaty could be concluded by the end of 2010,
but leaked information from Australia lead to the impression that the
negotiations could be continued also in 2011.

Michael Geist on ACTA

Answer given by Mrs Ferrero-Waldner on behalf of the Commission (4.2.2010)

What Really Happened At the ACTA Talks in Mexico? (2.02.2010)

Pressure mounts on EU to come clean on ACTA (5.02.2010)

Brussels denies rumours of secret anti-piracy treaty (4.02.2010)

ACTA negotiations surrounded by secrecy (only in Finnish, 15.01.2010)

ACTA : Fran├žoise Castex asks the Commission (only in French, 5.02.2010)

EDRi-gram: New round of negotiations on ACTA: EU position (27.01.2010)