ACTA: Major leak reveals countries’ positions

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Another leak of ACTA, the multilateral agreement aimed at imposing the most stringent anti-counterfeiting measures at the global level! This new document originating from the European Commission outlines the positions of negotiating countries on the language of the civil enforcement chapter and the digital chapter.

It is clear that the negotiators are pushing for ACTA to compile some of the most dangerous provisions regarding online “intellectual property rights”, and especially copyright. For instance, on the liability of technical intermediaries (Internet access providers and online service providers), the European Union is promoting the worst interpretations of the 2000 e-Commerce directive, while the United States would like to export their much-criticized “notice-and-takedown” procedure (part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act). On top of this, three-strikes and traffic filtering policies are still contemplated.

When online copyright is currently fiercely debated in democratic political fora, ACTA negotiators are secretly discussing a treaty that would profoundly reshape the Internet ecosystem to the sole benefit of a few powerful corporate interests. The digital chapter would erode both commercial and non-commercial innovations, which foster access to cultural works and often allow users to exert their legitimate rights as guaranteed by traditional limitations and exceptions to copyright.

Instead of moving toward an increased control of the information flow, policy-makers must protect the principles embedded in the Internet – an open communications infrastructure that foster the free flow of information along the network – to achieve a thriving knowledge society. As La Quadrature wrote in its response to the European Commission on online creative content, the EU and its trade partners should:

  • Recognize that the fight against file-sharing necessarily harms the rights and freedoms of Internet users.
  • Renounce to this stupid “war on sharing” and recognize it as an integral component of the Internet-based creative economy (see Philippe Aigrain’s proposal).
  • Evaluate the impact of so-called Technical Protection Measures on the rights of the public and competition in the digital creative economy, and eventually repel the provisions enforcing TPMs.
  • Tackle contractual enclosures of copyrighted works such as “shrink-wrap licenses“.

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