Hey guys! I´ve got some good news for you today!
Due to huffingtonpost.com, ACTA won’t become a law in Germany. “We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet” said Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda. “We are now likely to be in a world without (…) ACTA” she added.
Now, you are might wondering why you haven´t heard anything about this announcement. Finally, the hype about the protests against ACTA were widespread and even my grandparents asked me about this current issue everyone is talking about.
To avoid that this interesting information tend to be overseen in Germany, I´m going to inform you what´s behind this ACTA stuff!
Assholes Creating Tyranny Again
Unlike as shown in the picture, “ACTA” is the abbreviation for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (bummer; sounded somehow funny!). It embodies a treaty between various countries all over the world. This contract is already signed and partly ratified in the US and the majority of countries in Europe (except Germany, Poland and Switzerland).
The target of this contract is to introduce international standards with respect to intellectual property rights. Therefore, the treaty contains 6 chapters with 45 articles. But don´t worry! This blog post is not an analysis and interpretation of the lawful aspects (how boring!)
I just want to point out the following main points:
- ACTA is responsible for the protection of the intellectual property by enforcing the creator´s legitimate titles. “Intellectual property” can include brands, patents, designs and copy rights, for example.
- If a person violates ACTA, he will have to face consequences like
house searches and attachments (even if there is no reasonable suspicion).
- The “criminals” also can be confronted with limitation of free expression of opinions and violation of privacy because these rights are minor with respect to the copy right. Depending on the magnitude of the crime, you can also go in prison for several years.
Sounds terrible! What about Germany?
Until now, ACTA was neither signed nor supported by Germany. There are just too many disadvantages and disagreements involved which are criticized by the majority.
But what is doubted in detail?
In addition to a restricted free expression of their opinion and an invasion in their privacy I already mentioned, the Germans criticize ACTA with respect to the role of the internet. Websites and platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia publish and share films, pictures, articles and other media as well. This means that they could also violate the copy right! For example, if a user of Twitter shares a video of his house party with a copyrighted song in the background, he incurs a penalty. That is because he publishes this music in his video, no matter whether these noises are of a good or bad quality. But maybe the user even don´t wanted to publish copyrighted media illegally; he just wanted to upload his video. Therefore, ACTA criminalize even persons who actually never wanted to commit a crime. This can mean limited freedom while surfing in the internet; and a world with YouTube & Co. Oh no!
You would like to get to know another example of this strange logic? Well, imagine libraries which offer free access to the internet. Due to ACTA, they also would incur a penalty because they make it possible to others to violate the copy right.
The Germans also criticize ACTA because of its history and development. Thus, the treaty was negotiated to the exclusion of developing countries. The composition of the “ACTA committee” was also discussed behind closed doors. This institution embodies ACTA´s own “government” outside existing international bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the United Nations (UN). It is responsible for the realization of ACTA and the consequences in the case of violation. The committee is also able to change the treatment without any accountability which is criticized as well, because this power does neither guarantee transparence nor conformability to the public.
Until now, there is no public organization which already had access to the documents. What do the authors want to hide? An inspection of the records would clarify lots of inexplicit and confusing elements of the contract. Without them, more and more Germans probably would agree with ACTA. So what do the authors want to hide?
This mistrust led to lots of demonstrations and protests in Germany as well as all over the world. This map illustrates the regions where those activities occurred in 2012. Eye-catching is that there were also demonstrations in Non-EU-countries like Switzerland as well as in Croatia. The reason therefore is that ACTA must not be understood as a law in the European Union. It is more like an international agreement which can also affect countries which are not part of the EU.
Protests against ACTA, which are organized by German critics and organizations, occurred in Germany; even in rural regions like Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
On 11th February 2012, more than 100 000 Germans and 200 000 Europeans generally joined in “Anti-ACTA-demonstrations” throughout the country. In cities like Munich or Hamburg, about 2000 people protested against ACTA; in Nuremberg as well as in Bremen even 3000. That means that 50% of all European protesters were German. Nowhere else the discussion about ACTA is as present as here!
But also the Poles are upset with ACTA. Therefore, the parliament in Warsaw looked like this some weeks ago. This is the leftist party of Poland demonstrating its averseness to ACTA. Politicians can also be humorous!
Other funny reactions are still happening in the Internet. Users of various websites are joking as you see below:
Fortunately, all efforts and protests have made an impact on the German government because Germany won´t sign ACTA now. Of course, they say that they want to discuss the ACTA issue later. But some critics state that the contract is not likely to become part of our German everyday life; at least not in the current edition because there are too many disagreements.
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, German minister of justice and reasonable person for ACTA, already raised concerns over ACTA and is encouraged about how well informed and engaged the Germans are.
At 12.06.2012, the European government will decide about the future of ACTA. Ratify or refuse? This is the question. Therefore, lots of demonstrations and protests are expected before this day; especially at 09.06.2012.
To my mind, the philosophy of ACTA is somehow a good idea. The protection of copy rights is a current issue in nowaday´s the digital age. I´m also embrace intentions of organizations to establish global agreements about this. But I´m not OK with the way how ACTA try to do it: to the exclusion of publicity. Nowadays, copy right issues do affect everyone, don´t they? So why don´t we found an institution which serves our interests as well: to protect intellectual property AND guarantee freedom in the internet?
I know, this is a tough compromise, but we have to think about it in detail. Otherwise, we have to cope with other ACTA-organizations who do not serve in our and in the creator´s interest in the future.