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 How could an EU-Canada Trade Agreement change copyright law?

 An alert has been issued over the possible inclusion of copyright enforcment measures – and in particular, of criminal sanctions -  in a new  EU- Canada Trade Agreement (CETA). It is understood that the proposed criminal measures could be similar to those in the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

The EU- Canada Trade Agreement (CETA)  is one of  series of free trade agreements being negotiated by the European Union. That copyright measures are in the EU- Canada Trade Agreement  has been known for some time. Indeed, the Commission has been presenting this fact since 2010.

 What has not been known is the exact nature of the measures under negotiation. Now, the French citizens advocacy group, La Quadrature du Net, reveals that ACTA-like provisions could be on the table.

 According to La Quadrature du Net, there was a workshop on the EU- Canada Trade Agreement on 10 October.  Speaking at the workshop, the EU lead negotiator is reported to have confirmed the existence of criminal copyright sanctions  in a current draft of the agreement.

He added that the criminal provisions in CETA were not being negotiated by the European Commission, but instead they were being handled by the Member States. This would seem to reflect the procedure during the ACTA negotiations.

 It is not known whether any other ACTA-like measures  are under discussion.

 It’s also not clear what the real significance is. A Free Trade Agreement would usually be ratified by the EU and the Member States, and its provisions effectively become law. Where that entails rights to import/export specific goods, that is one thing. Imposing criminal sanctions  under copyright law, is quite another.

 Is is possible for a trade agreement with a third-party  country to include measures that requre changes to the criminal code? La Quadrature du Net thinks it does, and  has accused the EU of trying to bring in ACTA measures by the CETA  backdoor.

But on the scale of international copyright politics, the EU- Canada Trade Agreement is really quite small. So maybe not the back-door.   More like  the  cat-flap.

 This is an original article from If you refer to it or to its content,  you should cite my name as the  author, and provide a link back to  Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten,  EU–Canada Trade Agreement – copyright enforcement via the cat-flap? , in,  11 October   2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.


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