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ACTA Copyright Treaty Investigator Recommends EU Parliament Rejection

Tuesday, Apr 17th, 2012 (3:31 pm) - Score 369

The MEP responsible for investigating (Rapporteur) the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), David Martin, has officially recommended that the European Parliament (EP) reject the treaty when it comes up for a final vote in June 2012. Martin warned that ACTA could not “guarantee adequate protection for citizens’ rights in the future“.

The international treaty would, among many other things, establish a broad new range of copyright enforcement standards and risked turning broadband ISPs into an internet piracy police force by making them more liable for the content they deliver. Existing and equally controversial UK laws, such as the still unimplemented 2010 Digital Economy Act (DEAct), are considered to be far more advanced but ACTA is seen as an added concern.

Martin’s Draft Recommendation to the EP (PDF)

Unintended consequences of the ACTA text is a serious concern. On individual criminalisation, the definition of “commercial-scale”, the role of internet service providers and the possible interruption of the transit of generic medicines, your rapporteur maintains doubts that the ACTA text is as precise as is necessary.

The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties. Given the vagueness of certain aspects of the text and the uncertainty over its interpretation, the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens’ rights in the future under ACTA.

Your rapporteur therefore recommends that the European Parliament declines to give consent to ACTA. In doing so, it is important to note that increased IP rights protection for European producers trading in the global marketplace is of high importance. Following the expected revision of relevant EU directives, your rapporteur hopes the European Commission will therefore come forward with new proposals for protecting IP.

Crucially Martin does not provide a total rejection of the treaty itself and even notes that “Europe cannot compete in the global economy without adequate protection for European fashion, car parts, films and music“, which is a fair remark but penalising or even criminalising citizens is a poor solution and often overlooks other issues (e.g. the inability to view new cinema releases at home, staggered TV show releases in different countries etc.).

In short, supply often has trouble meeting consumer demand. In the modern connected world people want content as soon as it becomes available and the internet affords a unique platform for that. By ignoring this demand rights holders risk a failure to recognise new markets; the world has changed and its been that way for awhile.

Martin also calls for the European Commission (EC) to “come forward with new proposals for protecting intellectual property“, which could merely revive some of the problem areas in a new form. Meanwhile the G8 countries are already known to be looking at new copyright protection measures, albeit at present focused on the supply of drugs and medical issues.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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