Encouraging Draft ACTA Report, Still Under Copyright Lobbies Influence

Paris, April 17th 2012 - David Martin, the rapporteur of ACTA at the EU Parliament, has issued his draft report recommending the Parliament to reject ACTA. This is an important step toward effectively killing this dangerous agreement. But while denouncing ACTA, the rapporteur nevertheless supports the 15 year-long war on culture sharing. He also carefully avoid to stress the need for a positive reform of copyright, so as to protect fundamental freedoms online and fostering access to culture and knowledge.

Rapporteur David Martin.

After last week's announcement that he would recommend the rejection of ACTA, rapporteur David Martin (UK, S&D) delivers on his commitment: his draft report calls for the Parliament to “withhold consent” to ACTA1, stressing that “the intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties”.

But while highlighting some of ACTA's main dangers2, David Martin is keen on giving the copyright, patent and trademark lobbies strong reassurances. Rather than calling for an overhaul of the EU's repressive approach to copyright so as to respect fundamental rights and adapt the cultural economy to ubiquitous technologies and social practices, David Martin writes at length to stress the alleged dangers of “counterfeiting and piracy”.

This assimilation of the real, dangerous counterfeiting of physical goods with the not-for-profit sharing of digital works between individuals is a typical confusion originating from the copyright lobbies. It misleadingly suggests that no fundamental policy change is needed, and that repressive policies are justified by general interest objectives.

Mr Martin's draft report concludes by urging the EU Commission to “come forward with new proposals for protecting intellectual property”. This too is a source of concern, considering the Commission's intent on beefing up the IPRED directive to scale up the repression of online copyright infringements.

“This draft report is an important step and shows that the collective action of citizens already had a tremendous impact on the European Parliament. Citizens will have to remain mobilized in the coming weeks to make sure that the Parliament indeed rejects ACTA. But winning the ACTA battle alone will not put an end to the war on sharing. David Martin's draft report shows how much the entertainment industry's repressive spin is rooted in today policy-making, and it will take the sustained efforts of civil society to shift the balance toward a reasoned approach. Beyond ACTA, it is the whole copyright and innovation policy that needs to be reformed, so as to foster freedoms online and the circulation of culture and knowledge.”, says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. For international agreements, Member States must obtain prior consent of the EU Parliament for the EU to ratify the said agreement. See article 218.6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU: http://euwiki.org/TFEU#Article_218
  • 2. According to the draft report, “unintended consequences of the ACTA text is a serious concern. On individual criminalisation, the definition of 'commercial-scale', the role of internet service providers and the possible interruption of the transit of generic medicines, your rapporteur maintains doubts that the ACTA text is as precise as is necessary.