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    Europe Considers Using CETA To Create "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Plus"

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    Monday June 13, 2011
    As Canada and the European Union continue their negotiations on a trade deal, a source has provided a copy of the EU proposal for the criminal intellectual property provisions. The IP criminal provisions was the one aspect left out of early drafts (the CETA leak from last year is available here). The initial EU proposal uses the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement's criminal provisions as the model. This includes ACTA Article 23 on Criminal Offences (criminal provisions for wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale), ACTA Article 24 on Penalties (including imprisonment), ACTA Article 25 on Seizure, Forfeiture, and Destruction, and ACTA Article 26 on Ex Officio Criminal Enforcement. Several of these provisions would require domestic legislative change in Canada that were not found in Bill C-32 (suggesting that an IP enforcement bill will be introduced sometime in the near future).

    Much like in ACTA negotiations, the EU is rejecting the request for inclusion of an anti-camcording provision in CETA. Canada enacted anti-camcording measures under pressure from the U.S. several years ago. The U.S. sought similar provisions in ACTA, but the EU ensured that the provision was optional, not mandatory.

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the EU criminal IP proposal is the internal divide over whether it should extend beyond ACTA to create an ACTA+. According to documents I've seen, Italy has called for the broadest possible scope for CETA, including geographical indications (yes, criminal provisions for geographical indications). Despite the fact that this extends well beyond ACTA, the Italian position is supported by Portugal, Greece, France, Romania, and the Czech Republic. In fact, the Czech Republic would also like to extend the criminal provisions to designs. The UK, Austria, and Finland oppose extending the provision beyond ACTA. The decision was ultimately made to start by proposing the ACTA language and consider progress on the remaining IP related issues in CETA before escalating European demands.
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    UN Report Says Internet Three Strikes Laws Violate International Law

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    Friday June 03, 2011
    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has released an important new report that examines freedom of expression on the Internet.  The report is very critical of rules such as graduated response/three strikes, arguing that such laws may violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Canada became a member in 1976). Moreover, the report expresses concerns with notice-and-takedown systems, noting that it is subject to abuse by both governments and private actors.

    On the issue of graduated response, the report states:

    he is alarmed by proposals to disconnect users from Internet access if they violate intellectual property rights. This also includes legislation based on the concept of “graduated response”, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called “three strikes-law” in France and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom.

    Beyond the national level, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been proposed as a multilateral agreement to establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. While the provisions to disconnect individuals from Internet access for violating the treaty have been removed from the final text of December 2010, the Special Rapporteur remains watchful about the treaty’s eventual implications for intermediary liability and the right to freedom of expression.

    In light of these concerns, the report argues that the Internet disconnection is a disproportionate response, violates international law and such measures should be repealed in countries that have adopted them:

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    Final Version of ACTA Posted

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    Monday May 30, 2011
    A new final version of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - formally adopted on April 15, 2011 and opened for signature on May 1, 2011 - has been posted online. ACTA will remain open for signature until May 2013.
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    Copyright Lobby Groups Press European Parliament to Pass ACTA

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    Thursday May 05, 2011
    Copyright lobby groups are pressing the European Parliament to quickly pass ACTA. The letter is believed to be a response to a request for an Opinion on the compatibility of ACTA with the EU Treaties.
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