[A2k] Leak: EU pushes for criminalizing non-commercial usages in ACTA

La Quadrature du Net jz at laquadrature.net
Thu Jun 24 05:25:52 PDT 2010

La Quadrature du Net - For immediate release

Permanent link: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/leak-eu-pushes-for-criminalizing-non-commercial-usages-in-acta

Leak: EU pushes for criminalizing non-commercial usages in ACTA

*** Paris, June 23rd 2010 - A document leaked [1] from the Presidency of the EU reveals that Member States are pushing for new criminal sanctions into the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a few days ahead of the next negotiation round. The proposal stated in this document reveals how illegitimate and dangerous the whole ACTA process is, while exposing the scary position of the EU calling for more repression of non-for-profit usages... and their incitation. ***

The ninth round of negotiations [2]  of ACTA [3] will begin in a few days in Luzern, Switzerland. A new leaked text, dated April 7th, proves that Member States, through the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, are negotiating the toughest parts of ACTA. The fact that the Presidency is negotiating along with the Commission [4] by itself shows that ACTA goes way beyond the scope of a regular trade agreement. Criminal sanctions (jail sentences!) being negotiated  and not debated by elected representatives in democratic arenas, is more than shocking. Such a blatant denial of democracy justifies by itself a rejection of the whole ACTA process, whatever the agreed text might be.

But the content of the position pushed by the Member States of the EU is even more disturbing. The Presidency document states that "The Position of the Member States of the European Union is still under examination" with regard to article 2.14.1 that covers copyright or related rights infringements. As visible in the released ACTA text, some proposals for 2.14.1 explicitly plan to apply criminal sanctions to "infringements that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain", and others give a definition of financial gain that include obtaining anything without paying [5]. 
The EU is clearly pushing for new criminal sanctions on counterfeiting and copyright infrigement that will also target non-commercial usages. If criminal sanctions for non-for-profit transfers of data is included in the final version of article 2.14.1, criminal sanctions for "inciting, aiding and abetting" will automatically apply [6]. Consequences for freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet could be devastating.

"The ACTA agreement, by its opacity and undemocratic nature, allows criminal sanctions to be simply negotiated. The leaked document shows that the EU Member States are willing to impose prison sanctions for non-commercial usages of copyrighted works on the Internet as well as for 'inciting and aiding', a notion so broad that it could cover any Internet service or speech questioning copyright policies. EU citizens should interrogate their governments about their support to policies that obviously attack freedom of speech, privacy and innovation. Around the next round of negotiations and beyond, ACTA should be restlessly combatted and opposed worldwide." concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

* Références *

1. http://www.laquadrature.net/files/20100624_Acta_Chapter2_EU.pdf

2. From June 28th to July 2nd

3. http://laquadrature.net/ACTA

4. While the Commission is the official negotiator for the EU, it can only negotiate trade related issues. As criminal sanctions are in the competency of Member States, they are therefore negotiated by the Council represented by the Presidency.

5. footnote 37 of the released ACTA text explicitly says "For purposes of this Section, financial gain includes the receipt or expectation of receipt of anything of value." meaning that for instance any exchange of information can fall under the scope of sanctions.

6. pages3: "the provisions of this section shall apply to inciting, aiding and abetting the offences referred to in Article 2.14.".

** About la Quadrature du Net **

La Quadrature du Net is an advocacy group that promotes the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet. More specifically, it advocates for the adaptation of French and European legislations to respect the founding principles of the Internet, most notably the free circulation of knowledge. 

In addition to its advocacy work, the group also aims to foster a better understanding of legislative processes among citizens. Through specific and pertinent information and tools, La Quadrature du Net hopes to encourage citizens' participation in the public debate on rights and freedoms in the digital age.

La Quadrature du Net is supported by French, European and international NGOs including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Society Institute and Privacy International.

List of supporting organisations : http://www.laquadrature.net/en/they-support-squaring-net-la-quadrature-du-net

** Press contact and press room **

Jérémie Zimmermann, jz at laquadrature.net, +33 (0)615 940 675


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