The US pressures the EU to pass ACTA before the end of 2011
This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [USA machen Druck: EU soll ACTA noch vor Jahresende beschließen | http://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_9.4_USA_setzt_EU_wegen_ACTA_unter_Druck]
The US government has expressed its eagerness to see ACTA passed by the
European Parliament this year. The controversial treaty allows governments
to “order an online service provider to disclose (…) information
sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for
infringement (…) of trademark or copyright or related rights
Pressures from the US are expected to increase in the next months, having in
view that there is the possibility that the European Parliament strikes down
the agreement which means that talks would start again from the beginning.
Based on a recent study issued by legal informatics experts from the German
University in Hannover, ACTA raises a series of problems in complying with
EU legislation and therefore the report advises MEPs to strike the act
down or significantly change it.
Hence, four MEPs sent on 15 February 2011 written questions to the EU
Commission asking whether it was aware of the negative legal opinion and
how it intended to deal with it. One of the issues raised by the MEPs was
the different formulations on the level of damages for intellectual property
infringements. Another aspect is related to how the new measures targeting
counterfeit products, but also copyright and trademark infringements, will
avoid impeding the legal movement of medicines.
The atmosphere is already tense as recently, La Quadrature du Net has
obtained from WikiLeaks exclusive access to diplomatic cables revealing
pressure put by the US government on several European governments,
especially in Spain, for the adoption of harsh copyright enforcement laws.
The US Embassy cables refer to the EU Telecoms Package in the context of
copyright, expressing its approval for cutting off Internet access without
the necessity of a court order, as well as for the French three-strikes
system and similar measures adopted in the UK.
They also show the main role of the US in the initiation of ACTA, the stakes
involved, the debates related to the participation of developing countries,
as well as the evolution of the position of the European Union during the
negotiations. Although the EU Commission has strongly criticised ACTA,
several EU national governments have negotiated the treaty behind closed
On the other hand, the European Parliament has, in its turn, concluded a
free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea that is not far off from ACTA,
including strong provisions on intellectual property rights protection.
The FTA with Korea, which will come into effect on 1 July 2011, includes,
just like ACTA, excessive criminal liability provisions for online
intellectual property infringements.
As the rapporteur for the Industry Committee of the Parliament, Daniel
Caspary pointed out, the level of IP protection standards in the EU-Korea
FTA includes not only copyright, related rights and trademarks, but also
designs, services marks, layout designs of integrated circuits, geographical
indications, plant varieties and the “protection of undisclosed
The treaty stipulates other measures including searches and seizures at the
request of rights holders and gives broadcasters the right to prohibit
re-broadcasting, fixation, and communication to the public of their TV
broadcasts for a fee.
According to Green party member Jan Philipp Albrecht, the FTA is similar to
ACTA as the information about the provisions of the agreement were
kept secret before the it was signed by the parties involved.
US keen for EU to adopt controversial anti-counterfeiting treaty
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (3.12.2010)
Stronger IP Rights In EU-Korea FTA: Precedent For Future FTAs? (20.02.2011)
WikiLeaks Cables Shine Light on ACTA History (3.02.2010)
Wikileaks publishes Acta cables (4.02.2011)
Opinion of European Academics on ACTA (11.02.2011)
EDRi-gram: ENDitorial: ACTA endgame – The devil is in the detail (8.09.2010)