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Confirmed ACTA-like Outrageous Criminal Sanctions in CETA!

Brussels, 10 October 2012 – The EU Commission has confirmed that ACTA-like criminal sanctions are currently present in CETA, the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. This attempt by the EU executive to impose repression of online communications through the backdoor is unacceptable. La Quadrature du Net calls on EU citizens to demand their governments remove copyright provisions from CETA during the upcoming round of negotiations1; failing to do so, the final text would have to be opposed as a whole.

The current attitude of the EU negotiators on CETA is an alarming repetition of the blatant denial of democracy of the ACTA negotiations. Despite calls from citizens and representatives, CETA remains confidential, both in the EU and in Canada. In this context of non-transparency, Philipp Dupuis, the European Commission negotiator, confirmed at a workshop held on October 10th 2012 that ACTA-like criminal sanctions were still in the CETA draft. As usual, the Commission declines responsibility for such measures by rejecting it on the Member States' governments (and therefore the Council of the EU)2, and claims it advises them to withdraw these provisions.

Without a public draft, it is impossible to trust any of the CETA negotiators, whatever they might say to calm understandably angry citizens. All the more since the publication a few days ago of the partially declassified transcript of discussions of the 3rd round of ACTA negotiations in October 2008 proves citizens were right about ACTA: negotiators did in fact design criminal sanction clauses so they would criminalize not-for-profit practices online (our emphasis):

NOT DECLASSIFIED presented the text on criminal sanctions. The formulation of this document is based on Article 61 of the TRIPS Agreement3, which it is designed to clarify and reinforce.

NOT DECLASSIFIED announced that it wished to determine the interpretation of the concept of commercial scale in Article 61 in order to make clear that it includes large-scale counterfeiting even if it is not for commercial purposes. Furthermore, it regarded (a) and (b) as possible variations of the commercial scale concept.

This is a threat to the very existence of widespread social practices, such as non-market sharing of digital works between individuals or remix, targets the Internet in a global way, including technical actors of the Internet4. If such criminal sanctions were to remain, imposed through the backdoor by EU governments, the CETA text would be compromised and would have to be rejected as a whole. EU Citizens must make their governments accountable and urge them to remove any criminal sanction and copyright-related provisions from CETA.

“The only hard evidence on which we can base our analysis suggests the worst: once again, the European Commission and the EU Member States governments are trying to impose repressive measures against cultural practices online. Broad criminal sanctions do not belong in a trade agreement. If they appear in the final CETA text, the agreement will lose all legitimacy and will have to be frontally opposed, like ACTA. This trend of sneaking repressive measures through negotiated trade agreements must stop.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

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