ACTA Trade Restrictions

 Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement



20th March
2009
  

Update: Circumventing Open Government...

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Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement a classified secret in the US

US flagThe White House just declared an intellectual property treaty a state secret and denied Freedom of Information Act requests asking that it reveal the details of an international treaty that could have huge effects on how information is disseminated online.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was already being negotiated behind close doors under the Bush Administration, under the direction of the Office of the US Trade Representative. Those concerned that all but 10 of the 800-plus page document were labeled classified and clearance was only given entertainment industry lobbyists took Obama's words about a more transparent government to heart and filed the FOIA request.

The denial of the request cited an order stating that material can be considered classified if damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.

So how is it exactly that the details of an intellectual property treaty are considered related to national security? Earlier this month we reported on an MPAA-backed study linking DVD piracy to organized crime and, bet you can guess, terrorism. The study calls for governments around the world to toughen up intellectual property laws, equating piracy with counterfeiting (they're not the same thing), and that government agencies work closely with the entertainment industry to police Internet traffic.

In effect, the study calls for a Patriot Act on behalf of the entertainment industry. It calls for a joint effort to monitor the Internet to find those who may be counterfeiting intellectual property and justifies it by suggesting there is a link between young Susie downloading a movie at home and human traffickers who help fund Islamic terrorists.

Wikileaks has provided links to ACTA documents made available in Japan, the EU, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand, and explains one clause that acts as a killer of peer-to-peer networking by criminalizing the nonprofit facilitation of unauthorized information exchange on the Internet. This clause would also negatively affect transparency and primary source journalism sites such as Wikileaks.

ACTA, says Wikileaks, would require the cooperation of ISPs and bans anti-circumvention measures, which could, in application, affect online anonymity and multi-region CD/DVD players.

 

17th April
2009
  

Update: Open Agreement...

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Obama publishes notes on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

US flag The world's major economic powers are considering whether to involve ISPs in their fight against copyright infringement and how to stop pirated material crossing borders, according to documents released by the US Government.

Thirty-seven countries are negotiating a new worldwide trade deal that aims to reduce counterfeiting and copyright infringement, but details have until now been kept secret.

Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the putative deal has been kept under wraps, but as part of US President Barack Obama's commitment to transparency in government, details of the negotiations have been published.

ACTA is considering what measures to implement to stop material from crossing borders. Fears had emerged that the countries involved were considering ordering border searches of computers and MP3 players to identify and possibly take action over pirated material on personal players. The outline of ACTA activity discounts that, making it clear that it is concerned only with industrial-scale importing and exporting of counterfeit material.

Cross-border trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is a growing global problem that often involves organized criminal networks, said the note. It said that ACTA might include: a de minimis exception that could permit travellers to bring in goods for personal use.

The document also outlines the debate of what the limits of civil and criminal enforcement would be; and how the national authorities would co-operate and share information.

 

23rd April
2010
  

Offsite: Copy Police...

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Secretive international copyright enforcement treaty finally revealed
rubber gloved customs officer

  We have reason to believe
you may be concealing a
pirate mp3 up your arse!

We've been covering the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for two years now, and in that entire 24 month period no official text of the agreement has been released.

That all changed as the countries behind ACTA have finally released a consolidated draft text (PDF) of the agreement. Though billed as a trade agreement about counterfeiting, ACTA is much more than that: it's an intellectual property treaty in disguise.

Tucked inside the draft are provisions that will prevent people from bypassing digital locks on the items they buy, that will force ISPs to shoulder more of the burden in the fight against online piracy, and that bring US-style notice-and-takedown rules to the world.

The text is not final—that is due to happen later this year—so if you want to see changes made, the time to act is now. After a year of partial leaks and finally complete leaks, ACTA's basic outlines are familiar.

iPod-scanning border guards?

Early ACTA commentators often complained that the agreement might give customs officials the right to rifle through your bags and search your iPod, confiscating it if they determined that it contained any infringing songs. Border guards might become copyright cops, turning out the bags of anyone who has visited China, say, to see if they might be bringing home any illicit copies of movies or software.

This was always a strange idea; ACTA's backers are hunting bigger game than iPods. The draft text contains a de minimis provision that allows countries to exclude from ACTA enforcement Small quantities of goods of a noncommercial nature contained in travelers' personal luggage.

...Read full article

Update: Criminalisation

27th June 2010. Based on article from boingboing.net

More leaks from behind the scenes at the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations: the EU is pushing for criminal sanctions for non-commercial copyright infringement. That means putting kids in jail for trading music with one another.

The ACTA agreement, by its opacity and undemocratic nature, allows criminal sanctions to be simply negotiated. The leaked document shows that the EU Member States are willing to impose prison sanctions for non-commercial usages of copyrighted works on the Internet as well as for 'inciting and aiding', a notion so broad that it could cover any Internet service or speech questioning copyright policies.

EU citizens should interrogate their governments about their support to policies that obviously attack freedom of speech, privacy and innovation. Around the next round of negotiations and beyond, ACTA should be restlessly combatted and opposed worldwide. concludes J้r้mie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

 

6th July
2010
  

Update: Civil or Criminal Offences...

UK opposes ACTA criminalisation of file sharers

Ragged Union JackFollowing revelations from a leaked ACTA document that participating countries would be expected to bring in a system of monetary fines and jail sentences for those who share files without authorization, the UK has ruled out such a response.

The UK government has announced that it feels such penalties are inappropriate for dealing with minor copyright infringers.

A leaked ACTA document published by citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net revealed the intention to introduce criminal sanctions into the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for file-sharing offenses.

The ACTA Chapter 2 Criminal Provisions document (.pdf) stated that each party shall provide for effective proportionate and dissuasive penalties to include imprisonment and monetary fines .

Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net said: The leaked document shows that the EU Member States are willing to impose prison sanctions for non-commercial usages of copyrighted works on the Internet as well as for 'inciting and aiding', a notion so broad that it could cover any Internet service or speech questioning copyright policies.

As noted by Zimmermann, the ACTA text includes proposals to apply criminal sanctions to infringements that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain . There are suggestions that financial gain could simply be obtaining anything without paying.

However, it seems that at least one country is showing a reluctance to go along with suggestions that file-sharers should feel the full weight of a criminal court. The UK Government has now said that it feels that criminal sanctions are an inappropriate way to deal with this type of copyright infringement.

Acta should not introduce new intellectual property laws or offences. Instead, it should provide a framework to better enforce existing laws, a UK Intellectual Property Office representative told ComputerActive.

 

15th July
2010
  

Update: Trade Secrets...

Even elected MEPs are not allowed to share progress information

Pirate PartyThe degree of secrecy surrounding the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has reached a worrying new height. Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom saw himself forced to leave a meeting with ACTA negotiators in the European Parliament after he was forbidden from sharing information with the public.

ACTA is an international agreement that aims to target piracy and counterfeiting globally. The secrecy surrounding the negotiations is astonishing. It became clear that even elected representatives at the European Parliament are not allowed to share ACTA-related information with their voters.

Following the latest round of ACTA negotiations in Lucerne, Switzerland, the Commission's negotiators came to the European Parliament to give an update on ACTA's progress. True to the secrecy surrounding most ACTA meetings, the gathering was closed to the public.

Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom was also invited to join, and at the meeting he asked if this secret setup also meant that he wasn't allowed to share any of the information with the public.

At first the Commission seemed unwilling to answer this question with a straight yes or no, but after I had repeated the question a number of times, they finally came out and said that I would not be allowed to spread the information given, Engstrom explained.

Like many others, Engstrom fails to see the benefit of keeping information from the public. There is no sensible reason why the ACTA negotiations should be carried out in secret, or why Members of the European Parliament should not be allowed to discuss information about ACTA with their constituents. In a democracy, new laws should be made by the elected representatives after an open public debate. They should not be negotiated behind closed doors by unelected officials at the Commission, in an attempt to keep the citizens out of the process until it is too late.

That is disgraceful, Engstrom concludes.

 

30th July
2010
  

Update: Game Over...

Devices short circuiting Nintendo DS controls declared illegal to sell, advertise or import

R4A High Court has ruled that devices that allow gamers to play pirated video games are illegal in the UK.

The ruling specifically targets the R4 range of devices which can be used to store and play copied games on the Nintedo DS handheld console.

The ruling says game copiers are illegal to import, advertise and sell in the UK.

The defendants - Playables Limited and Wai Dat Chan - had argued that they allow gamers to play home-made games.

The mere fact that the device can be used for a non-infringing purpose is not a defence, read the ruling by Justice Floyd. Related stories

Nintendo said it was pleased that the court was not persuaded by the defendant's arguments, claiming that game copiers are lawful, as they allow for the play of 'homebrew' applications . The court affirmed that game copiers first circumvent Nintendo's security systems before any non-infringing application can be played on Nintendo's handheld products, it said in a statement.

Game copiers are designed to fit into the game cartridge of Nintendo's DS. Games can then be loaded from memory cards. The chips circumvent the protection measures Nintendo has built into its DS consoles, enabling illegally pirated games to be downloaded online and stored on a chip. Other gamers use them to store and load homemade games or, as they can hold multiple games, to store their entire collection of titles in a portable format.

Update: Banned in France

8th October 2011. See article from kotaku.com.au

Nintendo has evealed that France has made selling R4 devices illegal.

Other European nations where R4 devices are illegal include the UK, German, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

According to an official release, the Paris Court of Appeals ruled against five R4 sellers and distributors. Criminal fines were over EUR460,000, and damages payable to Nintendo reached the tune of EUR4.8 million plus. Some of the retailers were even struck with suspended jail sentences.

 

12th September
2010
  

Update: Open Displeasure...

European Parliament declares unease with ACTA secrecy

European Parliament logo377 members of the European Parliament adopted a written declaration on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in which they demand greater transparency, assert that ISPs should not up end being liable for data sent through their networks, and say that ACTA should not force limitations upon judicial due process or weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

The written declaration has no binding force but the declaration does give the ACTA negotiators a sense of the parliamentary will; in this case, Parliament has many concerns about both substance and process.

Some of these have already been addressed; the most recent leaked ACTA draft shows that ISP liability has been removed, for instance. Others, like concerns of access to medicines, especially those in transit from countries with looser patent systems, continue to be areas of concern—and have been for some time.

La Quadrature du Net, a French group that heavily backed the declaration, sees it as a sign that ACTA is doomed. Written Declaration 12 is a strong political signal sent by the EP to the Commission that ACTA is not tolerable as a way of bypassing democratic processes. Legislation related to Internet, freedom of speech and privacy cannot be negotiated in secrecy under the direct influence of entertainment industry lobbies, said spokesperson Jérémie Zimmermann.

 

9th October
2010
  

Offsite: ACTA Revealed...

Secretive international copyright trade agreement revealed

ars technica logoAfter 2 years of secrecy the countries behind ACTA finally released a consolidated draft of the agreement. Though billed as a trade agreement about counterfeiting, ACTA is much more than that: it's an intellectual property treaty in disguise.

ISP immunity/three strikes

Under ACTA, ISPs are protected from copyright lawsuits as long as they have no direct responsibility for infringement. If infringement merely happens over their networks, the infringers are responsible but the ISPs are not.

New to this draft is an option, clearly targeting European law, that would explicitly allow Internet disconnections. Countries will be allowed to force ISPs to terminate or prevent an infringement and they can pass laws governing the removal or disabling of access to information. So, basically, Internet disconnection and website blocking.

ISP immunity is conditioned on the existence of takedown process. In the US, this is the (in)famous DMCA takedown dance that starts with a letter from a rightsholder. Once received, an ISP or Web storage site (think YouTube) must take down the content listed in order to maintain its immunity, but may repost it if the uploader responds with a counter-notification asserting that no infringement has taken place.

Anti-circumvention/DRM

ACTA would ban the unauthorized circumvention of an effective technological measure. It also bans circumvention devices, even those with a limited commercially significant purpose. Countries can set limits to the ban, but only insofar as they do not impair the adequacy of legal protection of those measures. This is ambiguous, but allowing circumvention in cases where the final use is fair would appear to be outlawed.

iPod-scanning border guards?

Early ACTA commentators often complained that the agreement might give customs officials the right to rifle through your bags and search your iPod, confiscating it if they determined that it contained any infringing songs. Border guards might become copyright cops, turning out the bags of anyone who has visited China, say, to see if they might be bringing home any illicit copies of movies or software. The draft text contains a de minimis provision that allows countries to exclude from ACTA enforcement Small quantities of goods of a noncommercial nature contained in travelers' personal luggage.

The real copyright cops

ACTA contains ex officio language that allows customs officials and border agents to hold infringing shipments of goods without needing a rightsholder to complain first. Several options are still being considered in the draft, but all give the authorities the right to act upon their own initiative in releasing suspected goods at customs checkpoints.

Proportionate penalties

At least one enterprising ACTA country has managed to insert this interesting line into the section on enforcement procedures in the digital environment: Those measures, procedures, and remedies shall also be fair and proportionate.

...Read the full article

 

28th November
2010
  

Update: Copying America...

European Parliament accepts ACTA trade agreement

European Parliament logo The European Parliament has welcomed a controversial international intellectual property treaty as a step in the right direction but has reiterated calls for clarity on the impact of the law on existing EU rights.

The Parliament rejected the chance to adopt a much more critical stance of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a treaty being negotiated between countries including the US, Mexico, Japan, Korea and others.

It voted against a resolution that said that it deplored the fact that the treaty was negotiated by just a handful of selected countries and that questioned its very legal basis.

Instead the Parliament voted to adopt a resolution that said that it welcomed changes that were made to satisfy its previous demands and that it would help EU countries to export with less fear of meeting infringing activity abroad.

 

26th January
2012
  

Update: Anti-ACTA Protests...

Polish demonstrations against the country signing the US led anti-piracy treaty

Poland flagThousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Polish cities, some of them hurling stones at police, in protest at an international copyright treaty criticized as a clampdown on freedom of speech on the internet.

In the city of Kielce around 700 people protested. Some of them threw bottles and stones at police, damaged cars and partially blocked traffic.

In the largest demonstration, in Cracow, 15,000 people took to the streets in a largely peaceful protest. Demonstrators chanted Down with censorship while some had a piece of tape inscribed with ACTA glued over their lips.

ACTA is the acronym for the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which Poland was to sign in Tokyo on Thursday.

 

27th January
2012
  

Update: Copy Cats...

EU signs up to the ACTA committing to action against copyright infringement

EU flagThe European Union and 22 Member States have officially signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The UK was among the signatories who gathered in Japan to sign the controversial intellectual property treaty.

The signatories commit to a raft of controversial intellectual property enforcement measures, including rules outlawing DRM circumvention, introducing criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights, and passages which have been interpreted as turning ISPs into anunofficial copyright police force .

The treaty still requires ratification by the European Parliament. The final vote is scheduled for June.

 

5th February
2012
  

Update: Secretive Copyright Treaty...

EU rapporteur resigns over being railroaded to get restrictive copyright treaty passed before the public realises what it entails

EU flagThe European Parliament rapporteur for ACTA, Kader Arif, resigned just hours after the EU signed the controversial intellectual property treaty.

In a translated statement, Arif denounced the process leading up to the ACTA signings as a masquerade .

I denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process which has led to the signature of this agreement: failure to address civil society, lack of transparency since the beginning of the negotiations, successive reports of the signature of the text without any explanation, sweeping aside of the views of the European Parliament expressed in several different resolutions.

Arif said that he had come under pressure to rush through the ratification process so as to keep ACTA out of the public eye.

As rapporteur on this matter, I was contronted by unprecedented manoeuvres by the right of the Parliament to impose an accelerated timetable with a goal of passing the agreement quickly before public opinion could be alerted.

The rapporteur closed his statement by expressing the hope that his resignation would lead to greater public awareness of the treaty.

This agreement could have major consequences on the lives of our citizens, and yet it seems that everything is being done to ensure that the European Parliament will have no voice in this chapter. Thus, today, in handing back the report that I have been in charge of, I hope to send a strong signal to alert public opinion to this unacceptable situation. I will not participate in this masquerade.

 

7th February
2012

 Offsite Event: ACTA Protests...

The Pirate Party UK will join an international day of action against controversial copyright agreement Acta on Saturday with protests planned for London, Glasgow and Nottingham.

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

10th February
2012
  

Update: ACTA Opposition...

Some good points made in opposition to the undemocratically authored ACTA anti-piracy international treaty

kader arifThe Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty, signed by most European countries last week, has generated considerable protest. This has sparked at least one signatory to have a deeper  think about what they actually signed up for.

The Slovenian ambassador to Japan, Helena Drnovsek Zorko, has issued an unprecedented public apology for signing the treaty, saying she was only obeying orders and was now supporting the public protests against the treaty. She sdmitted:

I signed ACTA out of civic carelessness, because I did not pay enough attention, she said, in a most undiplomatic display of honesty. Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been instructed to sign with the agreement that, according to my own civic conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly the future of our children.

The Polish government has announced it is to suspend the ratification of the ACTA treaty, in light of public concern. Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said:.

The issue of signing of the ACTA accord did not involve sufficient consultation with everyone who is part of the process. The ACTA ratification process will be frozen as long as we haven't overcome all the doubts. This will probably require a review of Polish law. We can't rule out that, at the end of the day, this accord will not be approved.

French European Parliament member Kader Arif, who resigned in protest the day the treaty was signed, urged his fellow parliamentarians to reject ACTA.

I see a great risk concerning checks at borders, and the agreement foresees criminal sanctions against people using counterfeited products as a commercial activity, he told The Guardian. This is relevant for the trade of fake shoes or bags, but what about data downloaded from the internet? If a customs officer considers that you may set up a commercial activity just by having one movie or one song on your computer, which is true in theory, you could face criminal sanctions.

I don't want people to have their laptops or MP3 players searched at borders, Arif said. There needs to be a clearer distinction between normal citizens and counterfeiters which trade fake products as a commercial activity.

[And if you doubt what Arif is saying you only have to look to Britain for an example of EXACTLY what Arif fears. The British Parliament deliberately targeted its anti porn laws at commercial suppliers rather than customers. Yet the British authorities corrupted the law and deemed that giving a dodgy video to your mate was in fact commercial supply. They argued that commercial 'gain' could be as minimal as just the satisfaction of doing your mate a good turn].

Protest

See  article from  openrightsgroup.org

Open Rights Group logo The Open Rights Group are supporting a demonstration against ACTA, which will take place in central London on Saturday, on 11th February. It has been planned to coincide with demonstrations across Europe, when a chorus of thousands of discontented voices will speak as one against over-reaching Internet laws.

The aim will be to tell as many people as possible what's going on by distributing leaflets and asking those who are worried to contact their MEPs.

People will be meeting at UK Music's offices, 27 Berners St, Paddington, central London at 2pm. The Open Rights Group will help supply what can only be described as brilliant leaflets and fabulous t-shirts. Then the idea is to split up into small teams and head off to spread the word.

 

11th February
2012
  

Update: A Pandora's Box of Human Rights Violations...

Amnesty International urges EU to reject international anti-counterfeiting pact

amnesty international logo Amnesty International has urged EU governments not to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), branding it a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations.

Starting this Saturday, 11 February, a range of civil society groups and individual citizens have planned protests in many European cities to voice opposition to ACTA before the European Parliament decides whether to formally ratify the pact later this year.

Amnesty International believes the pact's content, process, and institutional structure impact in a number of ways on human rights -- especially the rights to due process, privacy, freedom of information, freedom of expression, and access to essential medicines.

The EU should reject ACTA in its current form -- implementing the agreement could open a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations by doing away with due process and front-loading the requirement to enforce its provisions, said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International: While Amnesty believes that creators should be compensated for their work, the protection of intellectual property should never come at the expense of basic human rights.

Amnesty International is concerned about ACTA's broad coverage, vague language, and tendency to value private law enforcement over judicial review. Rather than allowing the courts to resolve how infractions of the ACTA should be treated, the pact obliges states to encourage third parties to enforce its provisions.

This would incentivize Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to impose repressive measures to avoid infringements, such as blocking, deleting, or even suspending services without recourse to judicial review.

Companies may be threatened with criminal sanctions if they derive indirect economic benefit from infringements or if they are deemed to have aided and abetted one or more acts of infringement. This is likely to have a chilling effect on free speech and access to information.

As these private companies would also be incentivized to implement intrusive surveillance technologies in order to avoid being liable for the actions of their users, this would also lead to gross violations of user privacy.

Access to generic medicines and other essential products could also be affected, as the ACTA would give customs officials the authority to seize products with labels suspected of being confusingly similar to trademark brands. Giving generic medicines similar labels helps to communicate medical equivalence and supports public health policy goals.

Amnesty International is also gravely concerned about the ACTA's vague and meaningless safeguards. Instead of using well-defined and accepted terminology, the text refers to concepts such as fundamental principles and even invents a concept of fair process , which currently has no definition in international law.

Only a small number of states including EU members, Japan, Australia and the USA, have negotiated the Agreement since 2007. The negotiation process has lacked transparency and democratic credibility, as it has taken place outside of recognized institutions, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The public was kept out of the process, and civil society, despite its demands, has not yet had access to all documents relating to the ACTA negotiations. US industry was kept up to speed with the negotiations, on condition that the industry partners signed a non-disclosure agreement.

The resulting standards are tremendously skewed towards protecting commercial interests over human rights.

Germany and Latvia delay ratification

See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Germany flagGermany has halted signing a controversial anti-piracy accord, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), after the justice ministry voiced concerns.

A foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP that the delay was to give us time to carry out further discussions .

Latvia put off ratification on Friday. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already delayed the process.

The Associated Press reports Germany's that Justice ministry believes the legislation is unnecessary in Germany and that the European Parliament should vote on Acta before the country considers it for ratification.

Anti-Acta websites currently list more than 50 protests scheduled to take place across Germany on Saturday.

 

12th February
2012
  

Update: Only Now is ACTA Getting Noticed...

Reports from anti-ACTA protests

EU flagThousands of people have taken part in co-ordinated protests across Europe in opposition to a controversial anti-piracy agreement.

Significant marches were held in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).

Around 200 protesters gathered in central London outside the offices of several major rights holders.

Saturday's London demonstration was supported by the Open Rights Group, a vocal opponent to the treaty. The group's executive director, Jim Killock, argued that Germany's stance shows Acta negotiations were carried out in secret by EU bureaucrats Three member states in Europe are now looking like they don't want to sign, he told the BBC: That shows that politicians are only really starting to look at this now. All of a sudden, the whole thing is breaking down.

Speaking at the London protest Loz Kaye said: What we've seen is a whole wave of people coming out on the streets right across Europe, he told the BBC.  Some people have been called extreme, but equally, Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontieres have spoken out. Even The Economist, which is hardly radical, has described the treaty as potentially draconian.

More demonstrations were held in other UK cities, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. .

 

14th February
2012
  

Update: Presidential Concerns...

President of the European Parliament speaks out against ACTA

European Parliament logoThe recently elected president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has criticized the current ACTA treaty, saying it provides little protection for the rights of individual users.

I don't find it good in its current form, Schultz said in an interview with Germany's ARD television station on Sunday. The current treaty swings too heavily in favor of copyright holders, he said, and an individual's internet freedoms is only very inadequately anchored in this agreement.

Schultz's own party, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, has come out against ACTA, and the German government announced on Friday that it was going to hold off on ratifying ACTA until after the European Parliament has voted on the issue. That vote is scheduled in June, after the European Parliament's trade committee has scrutinized it.

 

15th February
2012
  

Update: Human Rights Violations...

Netherlands and Bulgaria register dissent against the one-sided ACTA treaty

NetherlandsEuropean disquiet about the terms of the ACTA anti-piracy treaty is gaining momentum. The Netherlands and Bulgaria are the latest to question the treaty.

A majority of the Dutch Parliament is said to be against the ratification of ACTA. They only intend to change this position if there's irrefutable evidence that it doesn't violate basic human rights.

Right now this is certainly not the case, as professors Douwe Korff and Ian Brown examined ACTA's compatibility with human rights and concluded:

Overall, ACTA tilts the balance of IPR protection manifestly unfairly towards one group of beneficiaries of the right to property, IP right holders, and unfairly against others.

It equally disproportionately interferes with a range of other fundamental rights, and provides or allows for the determination of such rights in procedures that fail to allow for the taking into account of the different, competing interests, but rather, stack all the weight at one end.

This makes the entire Agreement, in our opinion, incompatible with fundamental European human rights instruments and -standards.

Meanwhile in Bulgaria, more than 10,000 people took the streets in Sofia last Saturday to protest the treaty, Economy Minister Traicho Traikov then announced that the country will not ratify ACTA before other EU countries have made up their minds.

 

18th February
2012

 Offsite Article: Europe's ACTA Freak Out...

How Hollywood inflicted overkill scuppers much needed international agreement on piracy control. By Harold Feld

See article from huffingtonpost.com

 

23rd February
2012
  

Update: Copyright vs Free Expression...

EU asks the European Court of Justice to examine the ACTA treaty

European Court of JusticeThe European Union's highest court has been asked to rule on the legality of a controversial anti-piracy agreement.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) has been criticised by rights campaigners who argue it could stifle free expression on the internet.

EU trade head Karel De Gucht said the court will be asked to clarify whether the treaty complied with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms .

The European Commission said it decided today to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the Acta agreement and its implementation must be fully compatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the internet .

Several key countries, including Germany and Denmark, have backed away from the treaty amid protests in several European cities. Acta is set to be debated by the European Parliament in June.

Update: Court move welcomed by Viviane Reding

26th February 2012. See  article from  bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

In a statement, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has outlined a robust position on internet freedom.

In it, she states for me, blocking the Internet is never an option and goes onto argue the current situation can and must not be changed by the ACTA agreement .

Reding concludes by saying I therefore welcome the intention of several members of the European Parliament to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the ACTA agreement cannot limit freedom of expression and freedom of the Internet.

Update: EU Parliament also asks for European Court guidance

5th March 2012. See  article from  publicaffairs.linx.net

he European Parliament has followed the Commission in referring the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court, for a view on its compatibility with EU law.

The decision to refer this question to the European Court is a manoeuvre designed to limit the impact of ACTA whatever the answer: if the Court decides ACTA does require European law to change, the Parliament is more likely to veto the treaty; if it rules that no changes are necessary, that will weaken the hand of those that seek later to invoke ACTA as justification for creating new enforcement powers.

 

29th March
2012
  

Update: European Court Filtered Out...

European Parliament trade committee somehow decides not to consult the European Court about legality after all

European Parliament logoThe European Parliament's international trade committee has rejected a proposal by David Martin, an MEP who is drafting the Parliament's position on ACTA. Martin wanted to ask the European Court of Justice for its opinion on the controversial anti-piracy treaty, but the committee decided that wasn't needed and will now vote in June on whether to approve ACTA. Opponents of the treaty see the development as a victory.

In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The treaty, which is aimed at harmonizing global copyright enforcement globally, has largely been formulated behind closed doors and its critics fear it will only lead to censorship and surveillance of Internet users.

The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.

ACTA will now be pushed through committees in the European Parliament during April and May and then to a final full Parliament vote at its June plenary session.

If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it's a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill, said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.

After its existence was first discovered by the public in 2008 after documents were uploaded to Wikileaks, ACTA's opponents now have just 10 weeks to pull out the stops.

 

26th April
2012
  

Updated: ACTA Raises More Fears than Hopes...

European Parliament ACTA rapporteur recommends against signing the treaty. Socialists and Democrats say they will follow this advice

European Parliament logo David Martin, the European Parliament's rapporteur on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), has announced that he will recommend that Parliament votes against this controversial trade agreement because it does not provide enough guarantees for citizens.

Martin made this announcement at the end of a public debate organised by the Socialist & Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament with representatives of industry, NGOs, unions, internet groups and citizens concerned about the effects of implementing ACTA. David Martin said:

Today's conference has confirmed my suspicion that ACTA raises more fears than hopes.

What it delivers in terms of important intellectual property rights is diminished by potential threats to civil liberties and internet freedom.

When the European Parliament rejects ACTA, the Commission must work to find other ways to defend European intellectual property in the global marketplace.

The president of the S&D Group, Euro MP Hannes Swoboda, fully supported Martin's decision. He said:

Next week, at our upcoming group meeting, I will recommend to all Socialists and Democrats to reject ACTA.

It will be important to find a way to solve standing problems through a transparent process and in a way whereby freedoms of Internet users will not be further restricted.

S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume said:

This conference has once again confirmed our fears about the potential risks of a text like this for the fundamental liberties of European citizens. It's not a question of whether we should fight counterfeiting and piracy, but in this case, and given the legal uncertainty and doubts surrounding this Agreement, it is not acceptable.

Update: Liberals and Democrats reject ACTA

26th April 2012. See  article from  torrentfreak.com

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in the European Parliament have just confirmed that they will reject ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Leader of the Alliance, Guy Verhofstadt, said that while supporting the protection of intellectual property rights, ALDE believes that ACTA falls short on a number of counts.

Although we unambiguously support the protection of intellectual property rights, we also champion fundamental rights and freedoms. We have serious concerns that ACTA does not strike the right balance, announced Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader.

Civil society has been extremely vocal in recent months in raising their legitimate concerns on the ACTA agreement which we share. There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice, Verhofstadt noted.

Update: European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda speaks against ACTA

5th May 2012. See  article from  business.avn.com

The whole idea behind the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which late last year and earlier this year was signed (though not ratified) by a number of countries, including the US and EU members, was to bring the world together to address the global fight against digital piracy, such as it is. But, as with so many things political, it appears that the process behind ACTA as much as the provisions contained within it have all but doomed the law to the dustbin of history. At least that is what Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has said is the likely outcome.

We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet, Kroes said Friday during a conference in Berlin: This is a strong new political voice. And as a force for openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject.

We are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA.

 

14th May
2012
  

Update: Law Like Swiss Cheese...

Switzerland decides not to sign ACTA

Switzerland flag According to web site Geneva Lunch, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) quietly suffered another setback in Switzerland where the Swiss Federal Council said it would not sign the agreement.

The Federal Council noted that since negotiations for the treaty concluded criticism of ACTA has continued to grow in a number of countries. The Federal Council went on to say that they are taking fears expressed about ACTA seriously because they concern fundamental liberties and important legal provisions.

Update: Judicial Review

18th May 2012. See  article from  gamepolitics.com

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will get a judicial review in Europe's highest court, according to the Wall Street Journal. The European Commission has asked the European Court of Justice - the highest court in Europe, to review the treaty and make sure that it is compatible with current European treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The Court's opinion is vital to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on whether ACTA harms our fundamental rights in any way, said John Clancy, the spokesman for EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht.

 

 Offsite Article: Failing European Citizens and Businesses...


Link Here 29th May 2012  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
Documents reveal democracy failure by the European Commission ACTA negotiators

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 Updated: A Shared Opinion...

Three European Parliament committees vote against ACTA


Link Here 22nd June 2012  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

European Parliament logo The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA )has been dealt a crucial blow after three European Parliament committees voted against it.

The treaty was rejected by committees responsible for overseeing its legality, economic impact and ramifications on civil liberties.

The EU Committee on Legal Affairs (Juri), Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) have now all expressed opinions against ACTA . Their views will be taken into account by the Committee on International Trade (INTA), which is due to make the final recommendation to the European Parliament.

The Open Rights Group welcomed the decision by the Juri, LIBE and ITRE committees to vote against ACTA. Peter Bradwell said:

This is a strong signal that more and more MEPs recognise ACTA is so badly flawed, in so many ways, that it must be rejected.

Together the votes are a protest against an unnecessarily imbalanced and ill-considered treaty. There is still a long way to go before ACTA is finally defeated.

The final vote in the European Parliament is in a month's time. We need to continue to convince more MEPs that ACTA puts our privacy and freedom of expression at risk and is an affront to democratic principles.

Offsite Article: Why ACTA Lives Or Dies With The Vote In The European Parliament

4th June 2012. See  article from  torrentfreak.com

The draconian ACTA agreement is coming to a global showdown. In the United States, Congress won't have a say in its ratification. In many small countries, citizens are rightfully furious. But it is in Strasbourg, in the European Parliament's session on July 2-5, that ACTA will ultimately live or die.

...Read the full article

Update: 4th committee rejects ACTA

6th June 2012.  See  article from  gamepolitics.com

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has now been rejected by four European Parliament committees according to a press release issued by the European Union. The latest committee to urge the full parliament to reject the treaty is the Development Committee. In a vote of 19-to-one (three abstained), the Development Committee recommended that Parliament reject the treaty.

The lead committee on the ACTA, the International Trade Committee, will vote on the treaty before it is scheduled to go before the full parliament on July 3rd.

Update: Next Step

18th June 2012.   See  article from  torrentfreak.com

The ACTA treaty is coming to its showdown two and a half weeks from today. The vote on the floor of the European Parliament is where the treaty lives or dies. But the next important event takes place as early as this Thursday (21st June).

...read the full article

Update: Trade Committee

22nd June 2012. See  article from  theregister.co.uk

The European Parliament's International Trade Committee (INTA) has voted decisively to reject the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and is recommending that the treaty be rejected in next month's plenary vote.

This is the fifth European committee to reject ACTA, and the INTA has formally recommended that parliamentarians reject the treaty in July, which would effectively kill it as it currently stands.

Many EU member states have held off on ratifying ACTA until after the European Parliament vote, although the Netherlands has already rejected it.

The treaty, originally proposed by Japan and the US, has been over five years in the making and was formulated in a secretive manner before being presented to governments for their consideration. What's killing it is the popular support mobilized by anti-ACTA groups. But of course the reason for the popular opposition is that the proposals are too draconian and weighed too heavily towards the wishes of the media industry.

Perhaps a more democratically created replacement treaty may find a more acceptable balance.

 

 Update: Sharing European Concerns...

Australia defers consideration of ACTA ratification awaiting the outcome in Europe


Link Here 3rd July 2012  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Australia flagThe Australian parliamentary Treaties Committee is recommending that ratification Of ACTA be deferred - partly because of its near-collapse in Europe.

The committee states that ACTA should not be ratified until a range of conditions, including a cost-benefit analysis, are met.

Committee chair Kelvin Thomson says, in the committee's media statement outlines concerns including: a lack of clarity in the text; insufficient protection for individuals; and ACTA's potential to shift the balance in the interpretation of copyright law, intellectual property law and patent law . He also notes the unfavourable reception that ACTA has received internationally.

 

 Update: A Shared Vote...

One sided copyright measure rejected by the European Parliament


Link Here 5th July 2012  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

European Parliament logoIn a 478 to 39 vote, the European Parliament decided to reject ACTA once and for all.

Six months ago, it was all but certain that ACTA would pass unnoticed in silence. The forces fighting for citizens' rights tried to have it referred to the European Court of Justice in order to test its legality and to buy some time. But then, something happened.

A monster by the name of SOPA appeared in the United States. Thousands of websites went dark on January 18 and millions of voices cried out, leaving Congress shell-shocked over the fact that citizens can get that level of pissed off at corporate special interests. SOPA was killed.

In theory, ACTA could still come into force between the United States and a number of smaller states. Ten states have been negotiating it, and six of those need to ratify it to have it come into force. In theory, this could become a treaty between the United States, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland. (But wait, the Mexican Senate has already rejected ACTA. As has Australia and Switzerland in practice.

The European Commissioner responsible for the treaty, Karel de Gucht, has said that he will ignore any rejections and re-table it before the European Parliament until it passes. That's not going to happen. Parliament takes its dignity very seriously and does not tolerate that kind of contempt.

In the wake of the rejection vote, EuroISPA, An organisation of ISPs at the European level, said:

EuroISPA and its members welcome the European Parliament's decision to call for a more balanced approach in the protection of the fundamental rights at stake when the EU negotiates international treaties. The European Parliament found that the intended benefits of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) were far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties and the legal uncertainties about the role of Internet Service Providers in enforcing intellectual property rights.

Update: Next!

19th July 2012.  See  article from  independent.co.uk

The European Union has been accused of trying to push through a controversial deal, which would force internet service providers to hand over the personal details of anyone suspected of infringing copyright online, by the back door.

Leaked documents show that the most hotly contested sections of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was overwhelmingly rejected by the European Parliament less than a week ago, also appear in a trade agreement between the EU and Canada called CETA, negotiations on which are in their final stages.

Experts say that the Agreement's supporters -- who include the European Commission - are trying to get its most controversial provisions past European lawmakers in the knowledge that they would not be able to object to the full Agreement on grounds they have already acceded to in another.

 

 Offsite Article: European Commission's Assurance on CETA Don't Add Up...


Link Here 27th July 2012  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
Another anti-democratic and one sided trade treaty being drafted in secret

See article from gamepolitics.com