European Commission: ACTA Is Dead, Long Live ACTA?

from the hidden-in-plain-sight dept

The first six months of 2012 saw Europeans taking to the streets in order to kill off ACTA in the European Union. Against all the odds, they succeeded in that aim, as the European Parliament voted to reject ACTA on 4 July last year. That defeat has certainly been burned into the memories of Karel de Gucht, the EU Commissioner responsible for negotiating first ACTA and now TAFTA/TTIP. When he was asked whether the latter might see ACTA sneak in by the backdoor, here’s what he replied:

“ACTA, one of the nails in my coffin. I’m not going to reopen that discussion. Really, I mean, I am not a masochist. I’m not planning to do that.

If the Commission advances new basic legislation, which I think she should, we will revisit the question, but I’m not going to do this by the back door”.

So you might think that ACTA is definitively dead and buried in the EU. But then along comes a new free trade agreement, this time between the EU and Singapore, which has the following section, Article 11.44, paragraph 2 (pdf):

In determining the amount of damages for infringement of intellectual property rights, a Party’s judicial authorities shall have the authority to consider, inter alia, any legitimate measure of value the right holder submits, which may include lost profits, the value of the infringed goods or services measured by the market price, or the suggested retail price.

Those with good memories may recall that something similar was to be found in ACTA, and that it was one of the problematic areas that led the European Parliament to reject the treaty. In fact, it’s not similar, it’s word-for-word identical with Article 9, paragraph 1 of ACTA (pdf). And it’s not the only section that’s been cut-and-pasted from ACTA: several other paragraphs are also direct copies.

This raises an interesting question. At the moment, the EU-Singapore FTA has only been “initialled”: that means it must still be approved by the European Commission, the Council of Ministers representing the member nations, and the European Parliament. So will the EU’s MEPs reject the new trade agreement because it represents ACTA by the backdoor — or at least a part of it? That seems unlikely.

But if the European Parliament does pass the EU-Singapore FTA, de Gucht might then argue that the same sections from ACTA can now be pasted into TAFTA/TTIP, since they are no longer problematic. And if he does so, perhaps he will be tempted to include a few more sections from ACTA, on the grounds that he is doing nothing “by the backdoor”, but doing it in the full view of everyone….

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Comments on “European Commission: ACTA Is Dead, Long Live ACTA?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

oh.. but they do learn…

they learn to sneak around the wishes of the voters and bend over for whomever is paying them to ram through some questionable legislation in any way possible, even coated in appropiate legalese lube.

In some countries it’s called “bribery”, in other countries it’s called “lobbying”… essentially its the same mechanism though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The wishes of the voters” is filling every EU-politician with fear. The way they have circumvented rejections historically are truely amazing shows of complete and utter disregard for votes:

1992: Denmark votes no to the Maastricht Treaty. Instead of respecting the no, the danish politicians and EU made 4 exceptions to the participation and send the new deal to a vote…

2001: Ireland votes no to the Nice Treaty. Instead of respecting the no, the exact same treaty was put up for a new vote in 2002 where it passed (the no-side argued “It doesn’t matter what you vote, the referendums will continue to reappear untill you approve”).

2008: Ireland votes no to the Lisbon Treaty. Instead of respecting the no, the exact same treaty was put up for a new vote in 2009 where it passed (EU had written a guarantee about the treaty not forcing them to implement what the irish people didn’t want.).

EU is very far from the democratic values of “respecting the will of the people”. That the parliament was convinced to turn ACTA down was a result of SOPA/PIPA concerns spilling over. The conservatives saw the movement as misinformed and a one-time nuisance. “How dare these internet-kids go against such an incredibly important deal? It is not sign of participatory democracy, but a misinformation campaign going viral!”. The rest of the supporters of ACTA saw it as a symptom of the obscurity happening during its negotiation.
Anyway, without the public protests, most politicians in PES and especially ALDE would have seen the treaty as far too important to vote down.

Anonymous Coward says:

this is exactly what that arse hole de Gucht has been waiting for. he has already been to the USA and in talks with representatives from Hollywood etc! i wouldn’t trust him as far as i could spit!
what needs to happen here is that now this is out, a big play should go ahead about how he and others are working from within the EU to benefit the USA entertainment industries with no consideration whatsoever for the people of the EU! with a bit of luck, he can get kicked the fuck out along with everyone else that are involved in this and other underhanded deals to screw the public still further!

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