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MEP: UK economy needs anti-piracy protection

May 18, 2012

By Colin Mann

A member of the European Parliament responsible for the preparation of the body’s report on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has warned that the UK economy needs to find another way to protect its intellectual property, as the measure is unlikely to be voted through by the European Parliament.

ACTA rapporteur David Martin MEP made the claim during an ACTA seminar in London, expressing concerns regarding the controversial trade agreement, predicting the EU Parliament would vote against ACTA two to one. “The problem is that it deals with two types of products, physical and virtual. The biggest mistake of ACTA is that these are both contained within the one treaty,” said Martin. “My view is there’s no way the EU parliament will vote in favour of ACTA.”

Martin criticised the agreement’s Internet policy, claiming its closed door formulation meant that it was too unclear on certain key areas. “I argue we would have a better treaty if the process was open from the very start,” he said.

Martin’s main concerns were criminal sanctions and the role of ISPs. “I have have no interest in criminalising individuals for downloading a film and I don’t think ISPs should have legal obligations to work as a police force,” he suggested.

He accepted that the aims of ACTA were entirely legitimate with desirable objectives. “The European Union needs to protect its intellectual rights. The British economy needs people to remain innovative creating new products,” he said, adding that intellectual property had to be defended.

He suggested that, unfortunately, ACTA had taken on a “symbolic role” with people seeing it as the next stage of US anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA, whose progress through the US legislature was halted January 23.

Martin’s prediction echoed comments from the EC’s head of digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, who told a conference in Berlin May 4 that: “We are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA.”


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