actaThe Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an international agreement on global copyright enforcement that covers everything from digital piracy and drug patents to counterfeit designer goods. It’s certainly a controversial treaty, judging from the reaction in Europe this week. Over 2 million people have signed up to an petition against ACTA – that’s more than twice as many needed for a successful European Citizens’ Initiative.

Tomorrow (February 11th) will be an organised day of protests against ACTA. Hundreds of demonstrations and marches are planned across Europe, with at least one march taking place in each EU member state. Why are people so angry about ACTA? Well, when we asked you to describe Europe’s digital future, we had a comment from Catalin-Alexandru arguing that it looked “very grim because ACTA was signed with no debate [whatsoever].”

A common criticism of ACTA is that the negotiations have taken place in secret. The European Commission argues (PDF) that this is unfair; international treaties of this sort are rarely negotiated in public. On the other hand, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on ACTA recently resigned in protest specifically over the secretive nature of the negotiations. We spoke to Sergei Stanishev, the Interim President of the Party of European Socialists (PES) – the umbrella party of social-democratic parties from across Europe – and asked him to react. Watch the short clip below to see him set out some of his criticisms of ACTA.

What do YOU think? Will you be supporting the protests against ACTA? Do you think the criticisms are overblown and ACTA is a sensible way to address the growing problem of intellectual property rights infringement? Or do you agree with Sergei Stanishev’s criticisms of the agreement? Let us know the reasons why you are for or against ACTA in the form below, and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Dara Robinson

24 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Jai Krishna Ponnappan

    Please read this very useful, cautious and fair minded take on the subject, “If You Thought SOPA Was Bad, Just Wait Until You Meet ACTA”

    If you care enough for your freedoms, please join in the fight against those few who work to strip you off it,

    ACTA targets ‘Internet distribution and information technology’, says an assessment of ACTA by the watchdogs at the Electronic Freedom Foundation. “ACTA has several features that raise significant potential concerns for consumers’ privacy and civil liberties for innovation and the free flow of information on the Internet [regarding] legitimate commerce and for developing countries’ ability to choose policy options that best suit their domestic priorities and level of economic development,” says EFF’s assessment.
    And if you have the time please look into TPP,
    “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-nation trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws across the globe.”

  2. avatar
    Vasile Alexandru Melesteu

    It should be debated by all the nations and and not just by a small party behind closed doors.ACTA instead of solving problems will create more problems, becouse its lacking alot in meaning and gives more power to corporations than actualy rezolving copyright infrigment.Do not allow this agreement to be treated superficially by Europe.As long this agreement is made behind closed doors, interests will dictate and not the ambitie to properly resolve this issue.

  3. avatar
    Luiza Tcaciuc
    Let’s take for example art. 27 (4) of ACTA:
    “A Party may provide, in accordance with its laws and regulations, its competent authorities with the authority to order an online service provider to disclose expeditiously to a right holder information sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for infringement, where that right holder has filed a legally sufficient claim of trademark or copyright or related rights infringement, and where such information is being sought for the purpose of protecting or enforcing those rights.”
    This is like post would open all our letters, because it wants to be sure that if at some point in a letter found an unauthorized photocopy copyrighted material, can give to the copyright holder your contact.
    So…Stop ACTA!

  4. avatar
    Yama Dúd

    It should not implemented in any way , human rights must prevail every material, and social control attempts. It is simple, not everything consists in money. Keep up!

  5. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    As one of the 1.7 million and growing signatories on a petition against ACTA, I need say no more other than when, in the history of the EU, has a voter petition gathered so many signatures from the European public from every single nation within?

    If the EU decide to ignore such a large and growing petition, then it will destroy what little EU identity the voters have with the supra-structure.

  6. avatar
    Melesteu Vasile Alexandru

    It should be debated by all the nations and and not just by a small party behind closed doors.ACTA instead of solving problems will create more problems, becouse its lacking alot in meaning and gives more power to corporations than actualy rezolving copyright infrigment.Do not allow this agreement to be treated superficially by Europe.As long this agreement is made behind closed doors, interests will dictate and not the ambitie to properly resolve this issue.

  7. avatar
    Daniel Pluskota

    goverments accept ACTA because they don’t understand internet and new multimedia market which doesn’t depend on big organisations( labels, radio, TV…) but on users/clients. We decide which album/film deserves to purchase, knowing the content before. Maybe people who think they will earn cash with ACTA insist….and they can insist very effectively:)

  8. avatar
    Daniel Pluskota

    ACTA can change reality. I don’t wanna live in times when we have choice only between Metallica, Britney Spears and Rihanna. All alternative artists are endangered

  9. avatar
    Paul Odtaa

    First of all well done Poland, the Czech Republic and now Germany to refuse to sign ACTA. Shame on my government, UK, for ratifying.

    Basically ACTA is something cooked up by American corporations, who with their extensive lobbying and funding of their politicians, are using ACTA to stifle developments in the rest of the world through the legal process.

    ACTA has been developed in private. Once the policy was developed then Japan, heavily influenced by America, was brought on board to justify calling it an international treaty. Then most of the rest of the world, without too much thought, have mostly signed up.

    Intellectual property rights are, and should be, discussed, agreed and implemented through the far more open discussions of the World Trade Organisation.

    Already the implementations of ACTA are being felt throughout the world. The current negotiations between the EU and India are likely to end up with Indian firms providing anti-HIV drugs to Africa being either banned or being sold at such a high price that tens of thousands of people will die.

    American companies are already exploiting beneficial work done by others – for example patenting gene sequences discovered by gene-mapping and an attempt to patent the seeds of some varieties of traditionally grown rice in India.

    If you have not already sign the petition’s petition. Write to both your own politicians and the members of the EU parliament.

    If not say good bye to academic co-operation and individuals and small businesses developing innovative products – both that Europe does well.

    Instead expect large corporations to dominate the world; to destroy small businesses with expensive law suites; to drastically reduce choice.

    No. NO NO NO.

  10. avatar
    Mihai Baba

    I do not apprope of ACTA. I have signed the Avaaz petition against it and I am considering joining the europe-wide protest tomorrow, especially to voice my discontent about our government’s ignorance of the matter.

    But, anyway, thank you for creating this debate. The 11th hour is still better than never at all.

  11. avatar

    communist mindset is destructive for commerce, nobody wants to pay for anything anymore, that is a very bad thing. Governments should protect our properties. Some may try to project convenience as freedom but i think the mass agrees with the fact that wealth and the right to have it is the biggest freedom of all.

  12. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    By no means should a democratic elected government admit to a situation where civic freedoms and free access to information would be threatened. ACTA is a direct threat and license to clamp down on the freedom of information exchange on the Internet against the hypocritical background of protection of intellectual property. The act is very unclear, vague and leaves a lot of loopholes for governments to introduce control of the internet (and therefore society).

    Hasn’t society learned enough about what happens when introducing such acts? Look at the entire drug problem. What would have been the situation if regulation had not been as stringent and its use left to self-regulation? There would not have been the need of an iron boarder between Mexico and the USA. Billions of criminal money would remain at the governments’ disposal for humanitarian development.

    Hence, lets not fall in the trap of over regulation allowing criminal brains to prevail. Freedom catalyzes creativity that leads to mutually beneficial progress, whilst criminal creativity leads to individual greed, common abuse and closes down an open society.

    Our legal system and national laws on protection of intellectual property are ample and sufficient to weed out abuses that occur. Focus on abuses should be a good enough tool.

  13. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    I think that the right thing to do is to be specific. We cannot just say: OK, ACTA is wrong take it down. We have to be strict only with issues that ACTA possibly violates human rights and fight for it. Companies live with the profit that they are making with the production of such products or services, if nobody or little pays for these products then I cannot see the point of their existence. If these companies do not exist then someone has to find an alternative to have their products and services. Any suggestions? One coin has two sides.

  14. avatar
    Duarte Silveira

    I think that if the page’s poster is correct and this is THE Big Debate on Europe’s Future,
    than I certainly have difficulty understanding why is this sponsored by microsoft??
    The foreign monopoly that tries to crush europe’s software industry any way it can, like when they lobby for software patents, ACTA and such!!!
    Can someone explain this phenomenon??

  15. avatar
    Debating Europe

    Hi Duarte,

    Microsoft are one of Debating Europe’s partners for this project, but we are not a Microsoft-run project. Debating Europe has complete editorial independence and we decide what to publish.

    If you think we have been unfair in the way we have covered ACTA, let us know what we’ve done wrong. Also, if you have any comments or criticism about ACTA itself, then let us know that too!

  16. avatar
    Otto de Voogd

    It was negotiated in secret behind our backs and doesn’t serve the interests of the people of Europe but that of a few (mostly US) corporations.

  17. avatar
    Tamás Rózsás

    With the spread of internet we are all creators of intellectual property. Should someone’s “rights” who write a book from our Facebook note for example, and publish it with government subsidies be better protected than ours? Should I pay royalties to a baker just because I look at the shop window of bakery?

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