Legal expert says anti-counterfeit deal should be scrapped

European parliamentarians say they will not vote for the flawed ACTA agreement

A leading data protection expert said Tuesday that the international anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) is "badly-drafted, breaches many fundamental rights and lawmakers should throw it out and start from scratch."

The accord, which was signed by the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea on Saturday, has been dogged by controversy since its inception. The aim is to prevent intellectual property piracy, but many in the European Parliament believe it goes too far and is too draconian.

Controversially, it leaves the door open for countries to introduce the so-called three-strikes rule, which would see Internet users cut off if they download copyright material as national authorities would be able to order ISPs to disclose personal information.

As a result, the Greens in the European Parliament commissioned Douwe Korff, professor of international law at London Metropolitan University, to do a study on the human rights implications of the accord.

"Firstly this agreement was drafted in unprecedented secrecy," said Korff. "The European Commission had very flimsy dialogue with civil society, but the big IP holders were consulted. It gives enormously strong enforcement to rights holders and ignores the rights of ordinary consumers. We were quite taken aback by the lack of balance in the instrument." He added that it was "stupid" to sit in a room and draft a treaty with only one side of stakeholders present.

The ACTA text makes no allowances for trivial or justified infringement, for example in the case of whistle-blowing, Korff said. In these cases, states should allow freedom of expression to override intellectual property rights, he said.

The study also expresses concern about the "privatization of law," saying that leaving it to ISPs to determine what can be allowed on the mere say so of the rights holder deprives citizens of 'due process'. These are serious issues that are not addressed, Korff said. "It is implicit in the ACTA text that Internet service providers should be encouraged to monitor the activity of the users to identify who might be infringing copyright."

Jan Philip Albrecht, member of the European Parliament for the Greens, said that his political group was asking the European Court of Justice for an opinion, but they would not be voting for it when the ACTA text goes before the whole Parliament in December. It is not yet clear how other political groups are going to vote.

The European Parliament has also asked its own legal service, the JURI committee, about the legality of ACTA. If ratified, ACTA will become a source of E.C. law and will be used by the European Court of Justice in the course of preliminary rulings for interpretation and validity of secondary law. ,.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags intellectual propertyregulationcopyrightlegalgovernmentLondon Metropolitan Universitytrade

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?