In spite of the cloak and dagger secrecy with which the European Commission is trying to shroud its ACTA negotiators, Trade Commissioner Karel de Grucht let slip a few nuggets of information on Tuesday afternoon - including comments on 3-strikes measures.
Speaking in a hearing with the European Parliament's Civil Liberties committee, which was public, Commissioner De Grucht said that he did not expect much progress at the next round of the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) negotiations - which will be in Washington in late July. And he further predicted that there was unlikely to be movement on ACTA before September.
The reason for the stalling is a difference ofopinion between the negotiating countries over the scope. Some want the ACTA to include patents and designs, others want it to be ‘just' trade marks and copyright.
On the Internet issues, De Grucht was questioned heavily by MEPs Stavros Lambrinidis and Jan Albrecht, (and one other whose name I did not quite catch).
Stavros Lambrinidis, pointing out that the devil is in the detail, pressed Commissioner De Grucht on ISP liability. He expressed the concern that ACTA may not force a 3-strikes regime but does allow it, and that under such a regime, ISPs could be obligated to follow the downloading patterns of their users.
The answer from Commissioner De Grucht was unexpected – and quite concerning. De Grucht acknowledged that a 3-strikes approach is not forbidden by ACTA, but that any implementation is down to Member State or EU law. He further said that individual member states may adopt 3-strikes measures, citing France as his example. Then he went on to say “it is not excluded that the EU would adopt legislation in this respect and that would be material legislation”.
From what I understand, the European Commission had shelved any such plans that it might have had in the wake of the Amendment 138 debate in the Telecoms Package. Unless this is a hint that something has changed.If that is the case, then it is in the public interest for it to be clarified.
De Grucht also claimed that ACTA is in line with the E-commerce directive - a view which would be difficult to substantiate if put to the test, and illustrating once again how DG Trade do not appear to understand the nature of the legal changes that ACTA could create.
Jan Albrecht asked about the Telecoms Package final agreement, to which Commissioner De Grucht did not provide an answer.
A video of the European Parliament Civil Liberties (LIBE) session on ACTA is available via this link :
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) ACTA will stall until Autumn, says European Commissioner , http://www.iptegrity.com 14 July 2010 .