Will ACTA Be Killed in the EU?
September 30th, 2011 — Several of the “like-minded” States that negotiated the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will attend the signing ceremony this Saturday in Tokyo1. The European Parliament, which will have the final word, will now face its key responsibility towards European citizens: will it accept a text that forces new broadly applicable criminal sanctions, deeply impacting fundamental freedoms, innovation and competition? Will it seize the opportunity to reject once and for all a text that was negotiated outside democratic arenas?
Though ACTA poses as a trade agreement, it creates new obligations for the signing parties to establish measures that will radically alter the Internet as we know it and gravely infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens.
In particular, ACTA will target all Internet actors2, forcing them to become judge, jury and executioner over copyright. They will be under the threat of harsh criminal sanctions for “aiding or abetting” copyright infringements3 while being forced by governments to “cooperate” with rights-holders in the war on sharing4.
ACTA will lead to a situation where the decision of whether a given content and its use are legal or not is no longer in the hands of a judge, but falls under an automated censorship regime programmed by private parties. As a result, fair use and the right to a fair trial will be crushed. Such a burden will also prevent companies based in ACTA-abiding countries from developing the information services of tomorrow.
To make matters worse, ACTA threatens the use of certain crops and legally produced generic drugs in favour of a global lock-down on all intellectual rights, no matter the consequences for social and economic development across the world.
Yet, the EU will not be able to sign such an agreement until the European Parliament gives its consent.
Access and La Quadrature du Net solemnly calls on all Members of the European Parliament to refuse their consent to ACTA. Our representatives must make clear that the democratic power of the Parliament will not be circumvented.
All citizens can participate in rejecting ACTA, which threatens their right to free expression, access to information, culture as well as privacy, and will harm free competition, competitiveness and innovation.
- 1. http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/event/2011/9/0927_01.html
- 2. Internet intermediaries such as access, service or hosting providers.
- 3. See La Quadrature du Net's analysis of Article 23.4: It is intolerable that criminal sanctions are included in a “trade agreement”. Such measures should only be debated in democratic arenas. Moreover, the limit between “aiding” infringements and linking to or indexing information is extremely blurry. http://www.laquadrature.net/en/acta-updated-analysis-of-the-final-version
Criminal sanction must be provided for “commercial scale” infringements. The notion of commercial scale is excessively broad in scope, including indirect advantage. Again, see: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/acta-updated-analysis-of-the-final-version
- 4. In its article 27.3, ACTA calls for “cooperation” between rights-holders and Internet service providers. The very same mechanisms are called by the European Commission “extra-judicial measures” and “alternative to courts”. Again, see: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/acta-updated-analysis-of-the-final-version