ACTA lurking in the DADVSI shadows?

Paris, March the 8th 2009. Press release.

April invites the French government to suspend its participation to the ACTA negotiations as long as previous treaties have not been assessed. As it stands, the ACTA agreement could jeopardize Free Software through the aggravation of existing pro-DRM provisions.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) 1 is an international agreement aiming to redefine copyright and patent policies: from generic drugs 2 to internet actors' legal liability3 the scope of negotiated provisions is large. Rather than taking into account changes brought by the information society, this treaty would aim to strengthen technological models which have demonstrated their inefficiency. The recently leaked part on Digital Rights Management (DRM)4 is a particularly telling example.

This agreement comes nearly 15 years after the "WIPO treaties"5 which already attempted to impose DRM at an international level. In 2001, international negotiations gave birth to European directive EUCD6, transposed into French law through the DADVSI law in 20067 (also known as "iPod law"). The lawmaker had explicitly demanded that a report on the implementation of the law be published within 18 months after its promulgation8. Three and half years later, this report has still to be started. April reminds that Eric Walter, who has just been appointed general secretary to HADOPI9, had indicated in 2007 (as Nicolas Sarkozy's Internet advisor during the presidential campaign) that the realization of the DADVSI assessment would be "as open as possible and that consequences would be drawn from it".10. And yet the only consequences drawn from the useless and noxious DADVSI law, Nicolas Sarkozy provided the laughable HADOPI (three-strikes) law and its improbable filtering spyware.11...

Despite an evident lack of communication between French12 and European institutions13, it is now demonstrated that France is participating in these negotiations14. April wonders about France thus engaging into a negotiation process without having, beforehand, evaluated the previous treaties' impact. "If the government has consideration for the lawmaker's work, it should suspend its participation to negotiations. By taking time to examine the impact of pro-DRM provisions enacted by the DADVSI law, it would discover that providing legal protection for these technologies is no solution" said Tangui Morlier, April's president.

April has repetedely demonstrated that DRM and Free Software are irreconcilable. 15. These digital handcuffs, which effectiveness depend on secrecy, are fundamentally incompatible with the essential freedoms provided by Free Software licenses. By proposing to make the current DRM provisions worse, ACTA represents a serious threat for Free Software. Therefore, April will contact French and European members of the Parliament to inform them of these dangers.

"We have been opposing ACTA since we learnt about its existence in 2008. This is why we call upon all Free Software users to demand to their national members of Parliament to take a stand against these negotiations » declares Frédéric Couchet, April's executive director..

At the European level, four MEPs 16 have submitted a written declaration opposing ACTA. April supports the call from "la Quadrature du net" to sign this written declaration.

About April

Pioneer of free software in France, April has been since 1996 a major player in the democratization and the spread of Free Software and open standards to the general public, professionals and institutions in the French-speaking world. In the digital era that is ours, it also aims to inform the public on the dangers of an exclusive appropriation of information an knowledge by private interests.

The association is made up of more than 5300 Free Software authors and users.

Contact: Alix Cazenave, public affairs | | +33 1 78 76 92 80