EU Finally Realizes The Public Is Watching CETA: Softens Criminal Provisions For Copyright Infringement

from the somewhat-encouraging dept

Last month, through all of the secrecy shrouding the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA), it was revealed that the treaty called for the same criminal copyright sanctions that European citizens widely rejected when those same sanctions showed up in ACTA. This was just as people feared, and those who noticed were furious that the EU would try to quietly undo the public's ACTA victory so quickly and brazenly. Of course, the reaction to CETA is so far nowhere near the critical mass that led to the ACTA protests — but it looks like the negotiators are afraid of recent history repeating, and may just have gotten the message that they can't do whatever they want behind the public's back. TechCentral reports (found via The 1709 Blog) that more recent CETA documents reveal a weakening of the ACTA-like criminal provisions. There has even been some stance-softening from pro-ACTA powerhouse Karel De Gucht:

...according to documents from the Cyprus Presidency of the EU seen by IDG News Service, the CETA text has been greatly watered down in order to avoid a similar outcome [to ACTA]. The intellectual property protection chapter is now understood to say that countries "may" provide for criminal procedures and penalties.

Even European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who pushed hard for the ACTA agreement, admits that changes must be made. "Since the negative vote of the European Parliament on ACTA, we have been changing the language obviously," he said in an interview with Vieuws.eu. "We should have no illusions, there are still a number of difficult issues to tackle."

Interestingly, though, there is still a strong push for CETA to include criminal sanctions for video recording in movie theaters... championed by Canadian negotiators. We've had a specific criminal law against recording a movie without permission of the theater owner in Canada since 2007 — a law that, like many of Canada's anti-piracy efforts, was primarily the result of U.S lobbying. This is typical of U.S. tactics when it comes to intellectual property law: push your closest friends and neighbors to adopt the strictest laws possible, then put pressure on international negotiations to export those laws around the globe and enshrine them as the norm. Thankfully, these latest leaked negotiation documents suggest that the EU is against Canada's proposal.


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  1. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), 7 Nov 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Canadian Law

    It's just a way of getting camcording into the criminal code separately, without requiring changes to the copyright act. The original argument for the law was that it's too difficult to charge camcorders with commercial copyright infringement because that requires intent to sell commercially—which is difficult to prove. By putting permissionless camcording into the criminal code, it becomes an illegal act all by itself, without copyright entering into it—even if, for example, the theatre was showing a public domain film.

    It's effective because theatre owners are already beholden to strict license agreements with the film distributor. So yes, theoretically the theatre owners could allow people to record, which would make that criminal law no longer apply. Then you would once again have to prove commercial intent to get those people for criminal infringement—but theatre owners would never be able to get away with that, and I'm guessing there's specific language in the licensing contracts between distributors and theatres that requires camcording bans and probably even prescribed countermeasures.

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