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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentcopyrightregulationlegalintellectual propertytradeLondon Metropolitan University

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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?