Stop ACTA!

Paris, Apr. 12th 2010 - This week, a new round of negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is taking place in Wellington, New Zealand. Recent leaks have revealed that the agreement aims at exporting the harshest sanctions related to copyright, patents and trademark infringement, and could turn Internet operators into a private copyright police. In addition, the whole process is an illegitimate circumvention of democracy. ACTA must be stopped.

The negotiators of ACTA probably know that the current text is going against the general interest and could never get through regular democratic procedures. They are thus imposing ACTA through the backdoor with an ad-hoc negotiation between selected parties. The latest leaks1 reveal that the Presidency of the EU Council, negotiating alongside the European Commission on behalf of the European Union, is trying to sneak criminal sanctions that are offensive to fundamental rights and go well beyond existing EU law. This export of such unwarranted legislation without democratic oversight unecessarily undermines the legitimacy of copyright and patents.

Through this "policy laundering", ACTA will impose a regime where everyone could be presumed guilty of infringement: fake medicines assimilated to unlicensed generic drugs, filesharing to massive commercial counterfeits, inciting and aiding infringement subjected to criminal sanctions2, etc. By inducing restrictions of access to the Net, ACTA negotiators would also put restrictions on our fundamental freedoms.

"There is no way of influencing or checking the work of the ACTA negotiators. All the leaks show that their intent is to push for tougher sanctions on citizens and more legal insecurity over Internet actors. By so doing, they would restrict privacy, freedom of speech as well as access to knowledge and technology all over the world. The denial of reality that has been displayed so far and the hostility towards the general interest is untolerable. Given the current conditions, there is no choice but to reject ACTA as a whole", says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

La Quadrature du Net calls on everyone attached to the values of democracy, fundamental freedoms and who enjoy the Internet to raise awareness about ACTA, including by spreading the "Stop ACTA! alert box"3 on their websites and signing the Wellington declaration4.