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Monday, October 29, 2012

ACTA to Resurrect in Europe

Entertainment industry and politicians have repackaged the controversial law to sell it as a new one. It seems that the EC thinks its elected politicians and public are all stupid. The international treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been negotiated for a long time, eventually causing outrage of much of the world. After this, the politicians had to drop their support and people believed that was the end of the treaty.

The European Parliament was even reported cheering that the agreement didn't pass, lauding it as a win for democracy. Nevertheless, it seemed that the European Commission decided to make another attempt and please the content industry with recycling ACTA and introducing it as an entirely new bill.

The human rights outfits pointed out that the Canada-EU Union and Trade Agreement (CETA) has cut and pasted all the controversial issues from ACTA that made everyone upset. Its leaked copy reveals that the bill features some similar controversial provisions, especially those related to criminal enforcement, private enforcement by ISPs, and harsh damages.

The reasons why the EU rejected the treaty were announced to the public, but since CETA was negotiated secretly, nobody knew about them. According to both Canada and European Union, the draft text of CETA is now secret, so nobody in the European Parliament can complain this time.

The new treaty is supposed to strengthen economic relationship between Canada and Europe via “free” trade and increased investment. However, it is unclear why agenda of the entertainment industry on copyright should be included in it.

In the meantime, the European Commission negotiator isn’t ashamed of the attempts to clamp down on the human freedom in the name of protecting the content industry. Instead, he bragged that criminal sanctions from ACTA treaty resurrected in the CETA draft. Perhaps, he forgot that 92% of the EU Parliament voted against the trade agreement in 2012.

The industry observers hope that he just might have bragged a bit too soon. It seems that after the public knew about the plans there’s a ground-swell of action moving against the bill. For instance, the Dutch authorities have already announced that they wouldn’t accept the treaty if it contained such provisions. At the same time, Poland and several other countries are calling on their people to demand copyright provisions be removed from the bill during the upcoming negotiations.

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