16th April 2012 18:08
ACTA on the ropes in the EU, but the G8 are working on a follow-up.
The Pirate Party UK were invited to a seminar organised by David Martin, the European Parliament's rapporteur on ACTA, at the weekend, along with representatives from the Open Rights Group and the Anti-Counterfeiting Group. At the end of a healthy discussion, David Martin indicated that he was going to recommend against the European Parliament adopting the treaty, and has since declared the treaty to be "dead" in Europe.
EU Rapporteur David Martin: ACTA is "dead" in Europe
This is heartening news for Pirates and other champions of civil liberties, but the fight is not yet over. Demonstrations are planned for the 9th of June  to make sure our European representatives stand up for civil liberties and the public interest, against the powerful corporate lobbying interests that have pushed for ACTA.
G8 leaked document - ostensibly focused on fake medicines
But a leaked document from the G8 suggests that there is already work in progress on a "new ACTA" . Whilst this document seems much more closely focused on dealing with fake medicines, there are still several areas of concern.
IP enforcement should never get in the way of saving lives
Firstly, we re-iterate our demands that IP enforcement attempts should never get in the way of saving lives.
The leaked document fails to distinguish between "fake" medicines and "generic, but disputed" medicines - where the distinction is that former are clearly dangerous, whereas the latter are effective treatments. The Pirate Party supports efforts to tackle the problem of fake, ineffective drugs since they pose a clear danger to public health. However, we join Medecins Sans Frontiers and others in saying that great care must be taken not to lump these in with generic drugs that are under patent disputes. It is often the case that disputed-patent drugs can be of huge value in dealing with developing world health crises, and one of the problems with ACTA was that it would interfere with the availability of these drugs for such emergencies.
Another attempt to sneak anti-piracy in under the cover of counterfeiting?
Secondly, whilst the focus of the document is ostensibly counterfeit medicines, there are a number of throwaway references to "counterfeiting... and piracy". Assuming this refers to copyright infringement, the public outcry over ACTA has shown that legislators have failed to make the case that greater enforcement is needed, or helpful to society, or that there is any practical way of enforcing without massive harm to civil liberties.
Unaccountable US companies as a private police force?
Finally, we see once again the spectre of private-sector policing. The document makes reference to "voluntary actions by the private sector", and speaks of using credit-card processors and PayPal to block payments to organisations accused of counterfeiting. The Pirate Party is deeply suspicious of any attempt to privatise law enforcement, and we wish to see strong assurance that due processes will be followed - including a requirement for legal rulings before any payment intermediary should start suspending payments.
If ACTA is now dead, it's good to see that some lessons are being learned by legislators on IP enforcement - that a "one-size-fits-all" policy does not work. The Pirate Party will continue to demand assurances that neither lives in the developing world, nor the civil liberties and basic freedoms of the peoples of the world, become hostages in these ongoing developments.
Party Leader, Pirate Party UK
0161 987 7880
Pirate Party UK is a political party registered with the Electoral Commission.