ACTA reborn: Commission refuses to discuss EU-Canada trade agreement leaks

ACTA reborn: Commission refuses to discuss EU-Canada trade agreement leaks

Summary: CETA, a free-trade deal being thrashed out between the EU and Canada, appears to contain precisely the same copyright crackdown provisions as ACTA, the international treaty rejected by the European Parliament last week

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TOPICS: Piracy
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"We don't talk about leaks."

Indeed. No-one does. The above is the predictable response I got this morning from the European Commission when I asked about the striking similarities between ACTA, the copyright enforcement treaty that was drop-kicked out of the EU by the European Parliament last week, and the leaked text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free-trade deal currently being worked out between the EU and Canada.

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CETA, a free-trade deal being thrashed out between the EU and Canada, appears to contain many of the same copyright crackdown provisions as ACTA.
Because CETA is a trade agreement, its negotiations can be conducted in secret. The same thing happened with ACTA, which was designated as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement despite the fact that it was clearly a treaty.

The leak apparently shows a CETA draft dating back to February, and Canadian law professor Michael Geist published a comprehensive-looking table on Monday, showing just how similar the text is to that of ACTA.

"CETA is nothing to do with ACTA and is not an attempt to revisit what Parliament rejected last week," a spokesperson for the office of trade commissioner Karel De Gucht told me today. "We're not going to comment on the leak or compare it with ACTA."

Handily, Geist's comparison of the two texts demonstrates that, although ACTA has been defeated in the EU due to public hostility towards its provisions, the very same provisions could be brought into the EU anyway if CETA comes into force. These are a few of the relevant bits:

  • The criminalisation of copyright infringement on a 'commercial scale', which is defined as broadly as it was in ACTA. In other words, people putting copyrighted images on their blogs could become criminals.
  • The criminalisation of camcording in cinemas. This was actually made non-mandatory in the final ACTA text, but in CETA it's back to being obligatory.
  • Making DRM circumvention a crime.

And so on. What's particularly impressive about this comparison is how clearly huge chunks of ACTA text were copied, word-for-word, into CETA.

Now, it would probably be a mistake to think that the inclusion of these clauses in CETA is some kind of ploy by the European Commission to get round the European Parliament's rejection of ACTA. For one thing, in February, when this draft was apparently drawn up, ACTA was not yet dead in Europe. More importantly, the draft appears to show that it was Canada that inserted the I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-ACTA stuff.

We appear to find ourselves back where we started. As long as the secrecy that surrounds trade agreements can be used to veil discussions that have little to do with trade, all we can do is speculate.

And leaks are all we have to go on.

Topic: Piracy

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • ACTA reborn: Commission refuses to discuss EU-Canada trade agreement leaks

    More importantly, the draft appears to show that it was Canada that inserted the I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-ACTA stuff.

    You have got to remember that our current Prime Minister is nothing more then a Republican Puppet with dictatorial powers. His party has always done as they are told. Its been that way since Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush. So don't be at all surprised
    csumbler
  • I can't belive there is ony one comment after two full days!

    We live in sad times when IT people couldn't care less about freedom on this frontier...

    I've been online since 1993 and the technological developments in the past 10 years have all been in the direction of more control and less individual freedoms... No wonder we ended up with a 'democrat' president who's funding the big banks at a greater rate than any republican before him, all on the back of the ordinary citizen!

    These backdoor power brokers who prepare these freedom robbing regulations under the guise of 'trade agreements' are nothing but crooks that are subverting democracy for their own personal gains... Isn't it time these people were sued as the criminals they really are?

    What are our governments waiting for? That the people get in the streets and topple them like they did in Libya?!

    Man, I'm angry!!!
    vucliriel@...