European Parliament Rapporteur Recommends Rejecting ACTABy: Chris Richardson - April 16, 2012
After replacing the disillusioned Kader Arif who resigned his rapporteur position due to his disagreement with ACTA, David Martin MEP is picking up where Arif left off, rejecting the principles on which ACTA was constructed, while suggesting the European Union reject the treaty altogether.
While acknowledging IP protection is indeed an issue that needs addressing, Martin doesn’t feel ACTA is the way to go about it. He’s succinct in his recommendation:
The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties. Given the vagueness of certain aspects of the text and the uncertainty over its interpretation, the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens’ rights in the future under ACTA. Your rapporteur therefore recommends that the European Parliament declines to give consent to ACTA… Following the expected revision of relevant EU directives, your rapporteur hopes the European Commission will therefore come forward with new proposals for protecting IP.[Emphasis added]
Martin recommendation to the European Parliament was not the only forum he used to reject ACTA. After his proposal was posted, Martin wrote a guest post over at the Burdzeyeview blog, stating why the European Parliament should reject ACTA. Some highlights, first discussing some of the issues posed by ACTA:
ACTA countries also want work together to tackle commercial-scale copyright violations online, and to stop some illegally operating companies making millions by uploading and charging for copyright-protected films and music. This brings in a whole new set of questions over the role of internet service providers in monitoring internet usage, and individual citizens’ right to privacy on the internet.
From here, Martin discusses the ACTA negotiations; particularly the secrecy involved:
The Agreement is also controversial because of the perceived secrecy surrounding the negotiations… the ACTA procedure was particularly opaque, and I and my Socialist and Democrat colleagues (the parliamentary grouping of the European Parliamentary Labour Party and our sister socialist parties) objected strongly to the relatively scant information we were receiving from the European Commission.
While he acknowledged these complaints led to ACTA drafts being made public, from Martin’s perspective, that wasn’t enough. Martin then states his postion on ACTA in a clear and concise manner, saying ACTA is real threat to individual freedom:
I agree with the stated aims of ACTA and the need for increased copyright protection to give European producers and creators the return on their innovation. We need it for the economic recovery, for job protection and creation and, in the case of products like car parts and medicines, we need it to keep dangerous and potentially life-threatening products off the market. But ACTA is too vague and there are real risks that over-zealous interpretations of the text could have a real impact on individual freedoms.
One hopes the European Parliament follows suit, matching Martin’s clarity, while following through on his recommendation. If that happens, ACTA, for all intents and purposes, is dead:
If the Parliament endorses my recommendation to reject it, ACTA will fall in the EU before the summer.
Considering Martin’s comprehension and clarity on the issue, one wonders why American politicians can’t follow his lead and actually educate themselves about the legislation they are trying to pass. Furthermore, Martin openly acknowledged the public outcry in Europe was not something to be ignored.
Conversely, when the Internet blackout opposing SOPA occurred, people like MPAA CEO Chris Dodd called it “irresponsible.” Clearly, Dodd needs to spend some time with David Martin. Maybe that way, some of Martin’s common sense concerning Internet regulation in the name of IP protection will sink into Dodd’s skull.