In the ACTA poker, repression is exported

Paris, June 26th 2010 - Spokespersons for La Quadrature du Net and April met the French negotiators of ACTA a few days ahead of the next negotiation round of this anti-counterfeiting agreement. No satisfactory answer was given on crucial questions of interoperability and provisions aiming at transforming the technical intermediaries of the Net in a private copyright police. Do the negotiators of this illegitimate agreement, bound by the negotiation and power game with the United States, really have breathing space to protect our freedoms?

The 9 civil servants of various ministries representing France at the European delegation 1 are unanimous: for them, there is nothing dangerous in this agreement, and nothing going beyond the limits of the French and European laws.

While the meeting was intended to reassure, it is actually quite the opposite: according to the negotiators themselves, some provisions, the criminal sanctions, have been identified as going beyond the perimeter of current EU legislation.

Moreover, no satisfactory answer has been provided about key points of the text:

  • The negotiators were unable to guarantee that the policies to be implemented by the Internet service providers in order to be exonerated from increased legal liability2 will have no serious impact on fundamental freedoms. The scenario of technical intermediaries of the Net getting transformed in a private copyright police is therefore confirmed.
  • No right to interoperability of "technical protection measures" (DRM). DRM are a barrier to the development and use of Free software. For users of free software, the only way to get legitimate access to digital works imprisonned in those "digital handcuffs" is the circumvention. Such a solution has not been guaranteed by the French negotiators: users and developers of Free software would thus be, during the transposition of ACTA, subjected to unbearable legal pressure.
  • ACTA incorporates a great number of criticized repressive legislations which will soon be subject to revision at the European level although their impact studies have still not been made (directives IPRED, EUCD , etc.). The negotiators implicitly confirmed that ACTA would solidify these laws, making them difficult if not impossible to modify later on, while insidiously contributing to export them to countries which do not have their equivalent.

"Confessing being under pressure by the US negotiators, the French representatives have acknowledged their helplessness by confessing to stick to preserving existing repressive laws. The French position clearly aims at continuing obsolete laws and models, while excluding any constructive alternative tending towards the general interest." declares Tangui Morlier, president of April.

"The ACTA negotiators play with repressive legislation attacking our freedoms like others play poker. It is urgent to react and hold them accountable. Otherwise, we would implicitely accept that the future of the Internet is negotiated behind closed doors rather than democratically debated." concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the citizen initiative La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. The 9 civil servants represented the Ministries of Culture, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Economy
  • 2. legal liability for the storage or transmission of copyrighted material done by their users in article 2.18