The European Parliament’s ACTA rapporteur, David Martin, released his report yesterday. As he  had foreshadowed at the Socialist group seminar last week, the report recommends a ‘no’ vote. But some of the text in his report suggest openings for future enforcement legislation. What are we to make of it?

 David Martin’s recommendation to the European Parliament to reject ACTA is clear: He asks the Parliament not only to refuse consent, but also to notify the governments of the other ACTA parties that Europe cannot conclude ACTA.

Mr Martin states that his recommendation is made on the basis of the ‘unintended consquences’ of the ACTA text. In particular, he is concerned about “the definition of “commercial-scale”, the role of internet service providers and the possible interruption of the transit of generic medicines,”. David Martin believes the text is too imprecise and consquently, he says ‘the European Parliament cannot guarantee adequate protection for citizens' rights in the future under ACTA’

 However, should we take his report at face value? As rapporteur, David Martin is obligated to consult with all party groups, and  to consider all the different stakeholder interests. Even though his party group has given him full backing, he will be under pressure from EPP and rights-holder interests.

 Mr Martin will have spent the last few weeks shuttling back and forth in the corridors of the European Parliament, trying to establish a position which reflects  a majority, if not a consensus, view.

 There are many, even on the rights-holder side, who now recognise that ACTA will be useless even if adopted.

 And as La Quadrature du Net points out,  there are some hints  at a broad compromise with rights-holder friendly factions.

 The final sentence of David Martin’s report calls on the Commission to ‘come forward with new proposals for protecting IP.’

 The only proposals on the table are those in the IPR Enforcement directive (IPRED). The Commission is due to present its proposals for this directive later this year. The IPRED review  is widely expected to carry recommendations for ACTA + measures such as such search engine delisting, payment service blocking as well as ISP liability.

  It is of course possible that David Martin said ‘no deal. He has  simply stuck to his  views, and has phrased the report so as to appear compromising. On the other hand, there may be a political deal going on behind the scenes. If so,   do we anticipate the next battle in IPRED?

You may re-publish my article under a Creative Commons licence, but you should cite my name and provide a link back to Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten,    European Parliament ACTA report: deal or no deal?  18 April  2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.