May 7, 2012

FFII letter to the Development committee on ACTA

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On May 14th 2012, the European Parliament Development committee will vote on its draft opinion on ACTA. The deadline for amendments (consent or rejection) is set for tomorrow at noon. Today the FFII sent a letter to the European Parliament Development committee.

Dear Members of the Committee on Development,

We are writing to express our concerns with the draft opinion on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Many known issues are not reflected in the draft. The draft is a serious threat to the credibility of the Institution and the Union.

We note that global pricing problems (low incomes, high prices) also play a role in Eastern and Southern Europe. ACTA will increase the impact of austerity regimes. While not all voters may care about the situation of people in third countries, they do care about their own situation. ACTA, and this draft opinion, may undermine the support for the Union itself.

We understand the deadline for amendments is set for the 8th May at noon. We would like to suggest an alternative draft opinion, please find this draft below.

Yours sincerely,

Ante Wessels

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure

Alternative draft opinion

Short justification

ACTA was negotiated outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). All countries and stakeholders benefit from a well-functioning international intellectual property governance model led by WIPO and the WTO. Ratification of ACTA will undermine the authority of those institutions, causing immeasurable harm to the development of global IP norms. [1]

The Development Agenda has emerged as a critically important policy initiative for the developing world since it offers the promise of focusing global intellectual property policy on the specific needs and concerns of the developing world. Should ACTA derail the WIPO Development Agenda, the effect would be felt throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. [2]

Media piracy is probably better described as a global pricing problem. High prices for media goods, low incomes, and cheap digital technologies are the main ingredients of global media piracy. If piracy is ubiquitous in most parts of the world, it is because these conditions are ubiquitous. [3] The global pricing problem also plays a role in access to medicine and diffusion of green technology, needed to fight climate change. [4] An approach, like ACTA, that does not solve global pricing problems, but only heightens enforcement, will not solve global media piracy and counterfeiting problems, but will only increase social costs.

ACTA increases the risks and consequences of wrongful searches, seizures, lawsuits and other enforcement actions for those relying on intellectual property limitations and exceptions to access markets, including the suppliers of legitimate generic medicines. This, in turn, is likely to make affordable medicines more scarce and dear in many countries. [5]

The global pricing problems also play a role in Eastern and Southern Europe. ACTA will increase the impact of austerity regimes.

There are still concerns regarding fundamental rights. [6] In countries with less strong legal traditions and fundamental rights protection, ACTA will have a more negative impact than in the EU.

The European Parliament INTA study on ACTA cannot recommend to provide consent to ACTA if conformity with the EU Acquis is sine qua non for granting consent. This study also concludes that there does not appear to be any immediate benefit from ACTA for EU citizens. [7]

* * *

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament declines to give its consent.

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[1] Michael Geist, The trouble with ACTA: an analysis of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, EP INTA Workshop on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/nl/studiesdownload.html?languageDocument=EN&file=73311

[2] ibid

[3] Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, edited by Joe Karaganis http://piracy.ssrc.org

[4] http://acta.ffii.org/?p=675

[5] Sean Flynn with Bijan Madhani, ACTA and Access to Medicines http://rfc.act-on-acta.eu/access-to-medicines

[6] http://www.edri.org/ACTAfactsheet

[7] European Parliament International Trade committee study on ACTA http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/INTA/studiesdownload.html?languageDocument=EN&file=43731

—–

(end of letter)

As indicated by the footnotes, the letter contains quotes from Michael Geist (“All countries … global IP norms” and “The Development Agenda … Latin America”), Joe Karaganis (editor) (“Media piracy … are ubiquitous”) and Sean Flynn with Bijan Madhani (“ACTA increases the risks … many countries”).