The European Parliament will effectively kill off the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the treaty’s rapporteur tells The Telegraph.
David Martin MEP said that the controversial treaty was likely to be rejected by the Parliament in July, and that new measures to deter music, film and software piracy were likely to take two years before they came into force.
Mr Martin stepped in to become the Treaty’s rapporteur in the European parliament after the resignation of Kader Arif, who condemned the process of secret talks.
Mr Martin said that the treaty would not effectively tackle online piracy and that he would be recommending Parliament reject it. He added, however, that the debate, which involved riots in some capitals, had become “unnecessarily hysterical”. He claimed the treaty “never seriously proposed” a divisive “three-strikes and you’re out” policy of disconnecting pirates from the web and that it would never, as was reported, have meant searching people’s iPod at border controls.
“The case for stronger inteleectual property defence is very clear,” said Mr Martin. “But the atmosphere was wrong, with negotiations done behind closed doors without any real information coming out afterwards. What’s emerged is a thin text with insufficient detail, which appears to put duties on internet service providers to act as internet policemen.” It made no attempt to define, he said, for instance between “commercial” and “personal” downloading.
Mr Martin said new legislation was needed to regulate the internet, but that the part of ACTA that dealt with counterfeit physical goods should not be combined with digital proposals. He added that the existing system of “notice and takedown” for content on the web should be better and more consistently applied across Europe, and said “”I hope the commission will not think there is an anti intellectual property agenda in the parliament”.
If ACTA is rejected, it is expected that new directives will soon be proposed by the commission, which has been working on them already.
Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, welcomed Mr Martin’s stance. "ACTA would be a blow for democracy, and must be rejected. The EU Parliament has a duty to stand up for civil liberties and seek better proposals on copyright and patent enforcement. ACTA endangers trade in cheap medicines, as well as our free speech online,” he said.