OK, the day started late for me as I was catching up late into the night finishing off a request for an urbandictionary.com definition for “BRPF“: https://awbmaven.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/my-blog-brpfs-belligerent-radicalized-proselytizing-fundamentalist-the-enemy-of-humanity-brpf/
First up was the Committee on International Trade INTA news conference hosted by European Parliament rapporteur for INTA, David Martin MEP @davidmartinmep, and Christofer Fjellner, INTA shadow rapporteur, at 11.30. I caught the last 2 minutes then found a recording and watched it over a very late breakfast.
My overall impression was that DM is a very cool, thorough and unruffled chap. I liked most of what he said, he seems to want to get to the truth of the matter regarding what ACTA says and would mean. CF was a bit more ruffled and lacked DM’s composure, but still came across well.
DM explained that the lack of transparency on ACTA has undermined citizens confidence in it, and while there is no doubt that Intellectual Property is Europe´s raw material (a Commissioner De Gucht line), there are many questions about the potential implementation of ACTA, as opposed to merely the content of ACTA.
This shifted the focus from the legal (content; in line with EU acquis), something the European Commission is alleged to have asked [if they ask the right questions] the European Court of Justice to rule on, to the political – to the impact on the ground as to what ACTA would mean to EU citizens and how law enforcement agents would enforce it across the EU.
DM said plainly that even though the EC has asked the ECJ for an opinion, that he on behalf of INTA would also compile a list of questions for the ECJ, and that this list would be compiled only after he has completed a new report, perhaps by the summer. The report would comprise Civil Societies, citizens, and interested parties’ questions and concerns regarding ACTA.
He also said that the EP and ECJ had to make an “informed decision“, and that for this they would need access to all relevant documents. I took this to mean un-redacted (sic) legal opinions and other key preparatory works that have thus far not been made available to the EP.
Christofer Fjellner said there is no question about the protection of IP by the EU, it was a priority, and that counterfeiting [example, “pirated car parts”] was dangerous. He said 50% of complaints about ACTA seemed legitimate, while the other 50% seemed not to concern him. He continued that ACTA as written was vague, and that was dangerous by itself [from an implementation p.o.v.]. Intentions [in and via the key preparatory works] needed for enforcement agents had to be properly interpreted. He too said the EP should ask their separate list of questions to the ECJ.
Both make a lot of the separation between EC and EP, no doubt aware of the greater, post-Lisbon, responsibilities the EP and it’s sub-committees now have as protector or citizens’ rights (anti-EU Parliament people take note! Sections of the EP seems to acknowledge their growing relevance.).
DM made the point, “A yes of ECJ does not mean a yes from EP but a NO would mean ACTA is dead“. That “Individual consumers should not be criminalized“. CF said,”I personally would not want to turn moral obligations into legal obligations to check what people does in the internet“.
I sum up their positions as not trusting the EC to ask the ECJ the right questions; as realizing their increased responsibility towards citizens post-Lisbon; as wanting to get a fully informed understanding of not just the legal, but a clear implementation strategy from the EC regarding enforcement of ACTA; as being on the side of citizens [not wanting to criminalize those who downloaded a few songs/films, but going after the providers of the dodgy content] and seized of the protection of citizens rights above all else regarding IP and any proposed enforcement of IP.
One thing I noted which was not so good was DM’s statement that ACTA did not hurt generic medicines, something Medicine sans Frontiers and the like vehemently disagree with. India’s view of ACTA at the WTO today; http://keionline.org/node/1376
Next up, a summary of the afternoon meeting of #ITRE ….
hat tip to @StopACTANow who tweeted a lot of what you read above.