[A2k] Bridges Weekly: Rapporteur Urges EU Parliament to Reject Anti-Counterfeiting Pact

Daniella Allam dallam at ictsd.ch
Thu May 3 02:32:37 PDT 2012


*Rapporteur Urges EU Parliament to Reject Anti-Counterfeiting Pact*

The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) hit a new
roadblock last week, as ACTA rapporteur David Martin formally asked the EU
Parliament to reject the accord due to its possible impacts on civil
liberties, suggesting instead that the Commission look for alternative
solutions for Europe to protect its intellectual property.

“The European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens’
rights in the future under ACTA,” Martin warned in his recommendation.

ACTA is a plurilateral trade pact seeking to strengthen global standards
for the enforcement of intellectual property rights in order to combat
counterfeiting and piracy.

For the EU, the pact will become legally binding when signed and ratified
both by the EU as a bloc and by its 27 member states individually. The EU
Parliament’s express consent is needed before the agreement is adopted.

Growing concerns about ACTA - including protests throughout the continent -
led the European Commission to refer the pact to the European Court of
Justice earlier this year, whose legal opinion on the accord’s
compatibility with EU law is still pending (See Bridges Weekly,
February <http://ictsd.org/i/news/bridgesweekly/126256/>


*Martin: ACTA may cause more harm than good*

Earlier last month, Martin released a
the EU Parliament expressing the same concerns that he officially presented
to the EU International Trade Committee (INTA) last week. The document
cautioned against ACTA’s ambiguities with regard to individual
criminalisation, the definition of “commercial-scale” counterfeiting and
online piracy, the role of internet service providers, and the possible
seizures of in-transit generic medicines.

“The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed
by the potential threats to civil liberties,” Martin stated in the

However, Martin acknowledged that intellectual property is “the raw
material of the Union” and recognised that “the problems which ACTA seeks
to address are real and growing,” inviting the European Commission to come
up with new proposals to protect European intellectual property.

Martin also mentioned the possibility of renegotiating the agreement and
suggested that the Commission might be able to “go back to other
contracting parties” to modify the present text of the treaty after a
rejection from the Parliament.


*Continued apprehension about agreement’s impact on internet freedoms*

Martin’s recommendation followed an
the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) - an independent authority
appointed by the EU Parliament and the European Council devoted
to protecting personal data and privacy - which highlights various concerns
about the implementation of some provisions of the treaty in the digital

The EDPS underscored that the ACTA provisions regarding intellectual
property rights (IPRs) enforcement on the internet “raise concerns from a
data protection perspective [and] are highly intrusive to the private
sphere of individuals.”

“The indiscriminate or widespread monitoring of internet users’ behaviour …
in relation to trivial, small-scale not for profit infringement would be
disproportionate,” notes the document, adding that such measures would also
be in violation of EU law.

Meanwhile, Marielle Gallo, the ACTA rapporteur for the EU Committee on
Legal Affairs (JURI), expressed her support for the pact and proposed that
the EP give its consent. JURI is one of the four committees that is
expected to submit an opinion to the INTA prior to the trade committee
issuing its recommendation to Parliament.

“ACTA does not create new intellectual property rights for the Contracting
Parties. In other words, that which is currently protected by European
legislation remains protected; that which was not protected is still not
protected,” Gallo stated.

The INTA has postponed its vote on a final recommendation to the EU
Parliament until June to allow more time for discussions and let other
committees draft their opinions. The final Parliamentary vote is expected
to take place in July.

ICTSD reporting; “ACTA: reject and maybe renegotiate, says European
Parliament rapporteur,” INTA, 25 April 2012; “Euro MP David Martin
dismisses anti-counterfeiting treaty,” BBC NEWS, 16 April 2012; “EU privacy
chief warns of internet spying threat,” REUTERS, 24 April 2012.
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