ACTA & the internet: freedom of expression & privacy
An academic, an NGO worker, a Member of European Parliament and an activist go head-to-head on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Gabrielle Guillemin, legal officer at Article 19, kicks off our debate on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by providing a summary of the NGO’s three main concerns (12mins 33secs). Firstly, the draft legislation inadequately protects freedom of expression and fundamental rights. Secondly, there is a lack of clarity about the criminal provisions contained in the bill. Thirdly, ACTA puts pressure on internet service providers to disclose customers’ details to rights holders. Ultimately, says Guillemin, ACTA “does not strike the right balance between intellectual property rights and fundamental rights”. Guillemin is followed by Andrew Murray, professor of law at the London School of Economics, who plays devil’s advocate (19mins 50secs). “By sharing we mean copy. By copy we mean take without paying the person who created it. You might call it stealing, you might not,” says Murray, who adds that ACTA should be rejected not because of potential harms to liberty or the future of the internet but “because it’s a fundamentally poorly drafted piece of legislation”.
Next up is Amelia Andersdotter, a Swedish Member of the European Parliament elected on a Pirate Party ticket (30mins 36secs). Andersdotter speaks of the political pressure exerted on the European Parliament by the numerous anti-ACTA protests that broke out in early 2012. However, while many parties have rejected ACTA, she believes others will push for a renegotiation of the legislation. The final speaker is Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, a French advocacy group that promote digital rights of citizens (45mins). Aigrain argues that while many of ACTA’s provisions already exist in other pieces of legislation, the draft bill will strengthen clauses such as the cooperation between ISPs and rights holders to prevent file sharing. For Aigrain, the real question is: “Do you want Europe to be a place where people have incentives to create because they are copied or where people do not need to create because they are protected against copy?”
Main image: Members of European Parliament at a workshop on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (photo from the European Parliament under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence).