Q&A: How ACTA plans could rise from the dead
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 12 Jul 2012 at 12:23
The rejection last week of the unpopular and controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was hailed by campaigners as a fatal blow for proposed legislation that looked to impose penalties for online piracy.
The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the agreement, which was drawn up in secrecy and faced criticism for favouring corporate rights over consumers.
Yet just when you though it was safe to go back into Brussels, a Canadian lawyer flagged how a little-known equivalent of ACTA could impose many of the same restrictions and penalties on Europeans if it is signed by EU officials.
There are many ongoing concerns including digital locks, damages, criminal provisions, and border measures
In a blog post, Michael Geist - a law professor specialising in internet law at the University of Ottawa – highlighted uncanny similarities between ACTA and the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
According to Geist, Commission officials could use CETA to push its agenda for tougher IP rights, in spite of the European Parliament’s recent vote. Leaked copies of the text show that it calls for criminal penalties for IP infringement and originally placed demands on ISPs to curb access for downloaders.
We caught up with Geist to find how CETA could progress in Europe.
Q. There seems to be a large difference of opinion between the European Parliament and the Commission over ACTA – is that a fair summation?
A. There certainly is a big difference of opinion. The Commission fought for ACTA to the end, but the Parliament, having studied ACTA carefully, came to the same conclusion as millions of Europeans - that the agreement raised serious concerns with respect to both process and substance. It therefore rejected the agreement, sending a strong message about the importance of democratic review of international agreements.
Q. Why does the Commission appear so much more bullish?
A. The Commission spent five years negotiating ACTA, so its support is unsurprising. I suspect that many within the Commission view the Parliamentary vote as more than just a rejection of the treaty. They also see it as a rejection of the Commission's work in this area.
Q. Why are ACTA and CETA so similar? Were they drafted by the same team, and what was the need for CETA had ACTA gone through?
A. First, CETA is far broader than ACTA. While ACTA deals with just intellectual property, CETA is a wide-ranging trade agreement that touches on virtually every sector of the economy. At issue is one chapter in CETA - the IP chapter. The IP chapter includes much of ACTA, in many instances word-for-word.
As for why they adopted the same approach, I suspect the Commission and Canadian negotiators noted that both had participated in the ACTA discussions and were presumably comfortable with the language in the agreement. While that may have seemed like a good idea in February, by July it became enormously problematic since the Parliament had rejected ACTA and the inclusion of the same language within CETA appeared to be a direct challenge to the Parliament.
Another big brother mess
Why can't the EU just ban any thing that infringes personal freedoms and privacy. Both ACTA and CETA are only there to protect the corporate businesses not to help the the consumer at all and only another way of getting more money of consumers.
By curiousclive on 13 Jul 2012
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