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ACTA: Showdown Imminent, Battle Stations, Battle Stations!

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Activism

Activism

After a heated debate in Brussels today, the responsible committee in the European Parliament has decided to not send ACTA to the European Court of Justice, but to press on and make a final decision right away. This means that the final battle of ACTA stands right now, and has finished before the height of midsummer.

After the recent huge Europe-wide protests, which caught the politicians by surprise, the European Commission tried to take back the initiative by saying it would send ACTA to the European Court of Justice. In doing so, the Commission would ask for the court’s opinion on whether the repressive legislation package was compatible with human rights and charters of the European Union. Since this would stall ACTA for a year if not more, the activist corps calmed down: with this move from the Commission, the final showdown would now be at least two years out.

This also appears to have been the intent of the European Commission: to drain the protests of energy, sending the message that the final decision has been postponed by some two years. The European Parliament would have its own opportunity to ask questions of the Court regarding ACTA, making sure that the Court got the right and relevant questions.

But all of a sudden, with the committee’s decision to press for a parliamentary decision rather than following the Commission, ACTA is back on the short track for the deciding vote in the European Parliament – regardless whether or not the Commission sends it to European Court of Justice for evaluation. It should also be noted that the European Commission has not made any formal decision to actually get the court’s decision – saying so may or may not have been a smokescreen.

Who’s who in the European Union’s red tape?
A brief description of the several players here with similar names: the European Commission is a rough equivalent of the Executive Branch in Europe, the European Parliament a rough equivalent of the Legislative Branch, and the European Court of Justice is the highest court of the land. Except the European Parliament doesn’t get to make laws, but only to approve predrafted bills, and manyscore other oddities.

Regardless, ACTA will now be quickly processed in the various committees of the European Parliament, starting with INTA (the International Trade Committee, which owns the issue, and which decided today to not send ACTA to court), and progressing through two or three more committees in April and May, for a final vote in all of Parliament some time in June – possibly, but not definitely, in the June 11-14 timeframe. We have ten weeks in total.

If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill. If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.

Regardless, with the Parliament pressing forward, it is quite possible that the European Commission admits that its cards have been called and that it doesn’t send ACTA to the European Court of Justice at all; that playing this card was all just a tactical move to drain the activists of energy. If the Commission still sends ACTA to the Court, it will create an odd situation if Parliament says yes and the Court later says no – creating a situation where Parliament would have approved an illegal bill. Therefore, it is now completely safe to vote no to ACTA.

This is the fight we have to win. This is where we must ramp up the pressure on the European Parliament, which is where the battle for next-generation liberties will be going down in the next ten weeks in a series of small but important skirmishes leading up to the end-of-game boss: the vote on the floor of Parliament.

This is it. This is the showdown. This is the fight we have to win. The European Parliament’s vote is going to be the pivotal moment, not just for ACTA, but for the general trends in decades to come.

The ACTA showdown is now in progress, and if us activists don’t show up for the showdown, the show’s going down. We had a beautiful show-up in February, sending tremors to Brussels. Now, we need to repeat that message loud enough to be heard – in all the ways we can think of – for the next two and a half months.

Sources (in Swedish): Hax, blogger from inside the European Parliament, and Amelia Andersdotter, Member of European Parliament on the INTA committee. (Disclosure: we are all affiliated with the same political party.)

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About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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37

  1. 1

    ACTA Information:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement

    – [Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Final Version](http://www.ustr.gov/webfm_send/2379)

    http://www.stopacta.info/

    – [IP Enforcement Database](https://sites.google.com/site/iipenforcement/)

    – [ACTA PIJIP RESEARCH PAPER SERIES](http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/research/)

    – [Massive Street Protests Wage War On ACTA Anti-Piracy Treaty](https://torrentfreak.com/massive-street-protests-wage-war-on-acta-anti-piracy-treaty-120211/)

    – [Opinion of European Academics on ACTA](http://www.iri.uni-hannover.de/acta-1668.html)

    – [Dutch Parliament Rejects ACTA On Human Rights Violations](https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-parliament-rejects-acta-on-human-rights-violations-120214/)

    – [ACTA Anti-Piracy Treaty Criticized by EU Parliament President](https://torrentfreak.com/eu-parliament-president-criticizes-acta-anti-piracy-treaty-120212/)

    – [Michael Geist at the European Parliament INTA Workshop on ACTA 01.03.2012](http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gzieTzart5s)

    – [Sen. Wyden Challenges ACTA Constitutionality Again](http://infojustice.org/archives/7031)

    – [Wyden Presses USTR Kirk On ACTA & TPP](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IIsK5zPQYw&feature=youtu.be)

    – [Sen. Ron Wyden: Copyright Treaty Requires Congressional Support](http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/acta-congressional-approval)

    – [Wyden Amendment Needed to Challenge Dubious ACTA Justification](http://infojustice.org/archives/9072)

    – [Wyden Offers Amendments on ACTA and TPP](http://infojustice.org/archives/9066)

    – [ACTA treaty mauled in hearings](http://www.itnews.com.au/News/294749,acta-treaty-mauled-in-hearings.aspx)

    – [/r/ACTA](/r/ACTA)

    – [R/evolutionReddit Search “ACTA”](http://reddit.com/r/evolutionReddit/search?q=ACTA&restrict_sr=on)

    – [Twitter #ACTA](https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23ACTA)

    Take Action:

    – [Stop Internet #Censorship! Sign the urgent global petition @Avaaz urging the EU Parliament to reject #ACTA](https://secure.avaaz.org/en/eu_save_the_internet_spread/)

    – [Stop ACTA & TPP: Tell your country’s officials: NEVER use secretive trade agreements to meddle with the Internet. Our freedoms depend on it!](http://killacta.org/#acta)

    – [Access Petition: Just Say ‘No’ to ACTA](https://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/How_to_act_against_ACTA)

    – [EFF: Don’t Let TPP Become the New ACTA: Contact Your Lawmakers and Demand Transparency!](https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8229)

    – [Europe: How to act against ACTA](https://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/How_to_act_against_ACTA)

    – [Contacting the Congress | Online Directory for the 112th Congress](http://www.contactingthecongress.org/)

    – [Wyden Offers Amendments on ACTA and TPP](http://infojustice.org/archives/9066)

    – [Australia | Contacting Member of Parliament](http://australia.gov.au/directories/contact-parliament)

    – [Canada | Contacting Member of Parliament](http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC)

    – [Japanese House of Representatives](http://www.shugiin.go.jp/index.nsf/html/index_e.htm)

    – [Japanese House of Councillors](http://www.sangiin.go.jp/eng/index.htm)

    – [New Zealand Parliament Contact List](http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/Contact/4/c/0/00HOOOCMPPMPsContact1-Contact-list.htm)

    – [Parliament of Singapore](http://www.parliament.gov.sg/whos-my-mp)

    – [Parliament of Morocco](http://www.parlement.ma/en/)

    _____________________________________

    – [The Game Has Changed](http://i.qkme.me/36jgzq.jpg)

    ______________________________________________

    EDIT: If anyone wants to help add to this information/action list, check out:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hLxpAatSMdxnimSO7LA1eXMYZ_B4IeUIdYxtfMj3UkM/edit

    I expect FB protests to be organized soon. Also someone good with words should write a tl;dr summary and a inspiring call to action??

    • 1.1

      The only way to do this right is to have a protest across the EU the same day.

      • 1.1.1

        >ACTA will now be quickly processed in the various committees of the European Parliament, starting with INTA (the International Trade Committee, which owns the issue, and which decided today to not send ACTA to court), and progressing through two or three more committees in April and May, for a final vote in all of Parliament some time in June – possibly, but not definitely, in the June 11-14 timeframe. We have ten weeks in total.

        So theres value in hitting up INTA first:

        https://memopol.lqdn.fr/europe/parliament/committee/INTA/

        But I agree, we need another mass day of protest. Something that newspapers globally will frontpage. [We need another #F11](http://i.qkme.me/36jgzq.jpg). The awkward thing is that the internet really is acting as a de-centralized hive. #F11 wasn’t organized top down. It wasn’t even a case of famous activists or bloggers organizing the FB and google+ events. The protests were being organized pretty spontaneously and it was the bloggers just aggregating and repushing them. Very bottom up. But I don’t remember how everyone just ended up agreeing on #F11…

        I’m hearing April 7th and June 9th as single days of action. But see what happens. I think at this point, the most important thing is to spread information and be part of the anti-acta conversation; whether its on reddit, fb or twitter.

        It didn’t happen last time, but ACTA is a problem in the US as well. And Wyden is a powerful backer on our side. We really can push an anti-ACTA fight here as well.

        Given the localized nature of street protesting, its probably better to organize things through city sub reddits than specialized activist subs. Someone just needs to start a conversation and see the interest, then get a FB event page and go from there. :)

        i will say though, [/r/europe](/r/europe) and [/r/acta](/r/acta) were very impressive during the last acta round…

        _______________________________

        Random Anti ACTA activist switching on:

        http://wiki.stoppacta-protest.info/Main_Page

        https://www.facebook.com/StoppACTA2012

  2. 2

    Where you say “that it doesn’t send ACTA to the European Court” do you mean didn’t, rather than doesn’t?

  3. […] (in Swedish): Hax, blogger from inside the European Parliament. From ACTA: Showdown Imminent, Battle Stations, Battle Stations! Tweet !function(d,s,id){var […]

  4. 3
    Henrik

    Alright, boys and girls, let’s get to work!

    Suggested soundtrack: “Showdown” by Thin Lizzy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np4plC3Xe00

  5. 4

    We need nautical phrases, since we are the Pirate Party after all. “Beat to quarters!”

    On a more serious note, I will be meeting David Martin MEP (ACTA rapporteur in the European Parliament), in a few weeks to discuss ACTA. If anyone has anything specific they think I should raise, comment ;-)

  6. […] then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” blogged Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists […]

  7. 6
    Mika Kautto

    Now We gotta rise up and hit them with out words harder than before!

  8. 7
    Sandro

    It is time to take it to the streets again. Make them remember our numbers and our resolve. Peaceful and strong manifestations of our discontent. If we could arrange that we did it simultaneously in several countries, on the very same day, that would send a strong message across.

  9. […] suenan las sirenas. Ya llega la hora: todos a sus puestos. Vamos a tumbar el […]

  10. […] then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get […]

  11. […] then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get […]

  12. […] then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get […]

  13. […] on- and offline to stop anti-piracy laws from passing they successfully killed SOPA and PIPA while the battle over ACTA still rages […]

  14. […] then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons […]

  15. […] became known that ACTA would be moving to the European Court of Justice, it has become known that ACTA will not move to the European Court of Justice after all but remains scheduled for a vote by the European Parliament in June. Confused yet? You […]

  16. 8
    DennisTheMenace

    “After the recent huge Europe-wide protests, which caught the politicians by surprise”

    What the crack did they expect, that we would agree?!!!!! Jesus, it’s internet they’re trying to change. This thing is pointless, will never go through!

  17. 9
    Scary Devil Monastery

    ACTA is exhibit A when it comes to obfuscation and a very good case study in how you successfully push obviously catastrophic legislation through a government.

    First of all, ACTA’s current version is complex and extremely dull. If you read it until your eyes bleed all you’ll find is a lot of roundabout talk about how agrements and regulations should be implemented. Like listening to a dry-as-dust professor monotonously listing paragraphs on turnip growing for hours. You will obviously never find some paragraph stating outright “All your internets are belong to us”. Where you find obvious mention of what you are looking for it WILL be formulated in a way to allay all suspicion – with a small caveat at the end of the next page or in the margins stating the “exceptions”.

    There are some rules to remember when investigating a text which the parties involved would rather not see investigated:

    1) Any treaty being pushed hard by vested interest will never be formulated reasonably or fair to all parties involved. Indeed, the working assumption must always be that whatever party pushed for the treaty will pitch for as much as they think they can get away with. Politics in that regard is high-level haggling where the vendor is of the most unscrupulous kind.

    2) Anything objectionable will be hidden by several layers of linking and obfuscation. I.e. in the case of ACTA you won’t find much in the main text or amendments which seems “unfair”. However, there are multiple references to other dull-sounding paragraphs in less important directives – directives that are bureaucratically created without parliament input and wouldn’t normally have much weight except that thanks to ACTA they are suddenly backed by the full executive importance of a global trade treaty.

    3) Slippery slope by combination. Combine the above steps with another obfuscation. In referred-to directive I you may define what “commercial piracy” is and that may sound reasonable indeed.
    In referred-to directive II on the other hand, you find a redefinition of “commercial” to include, say, indirect gains. Advertising, or as part of another legal service.
    In referred-to directive III you may find a few sentences buried in a thick volume of paragraphs which radically redesigns how you define the term “not for profit”.
    So what the treaty actually says can easily go from the obvious term “Piracy not for profit is not prioritized” to meaning that “ISP’s, obtaining revenue for harboring pirates, must be liable for any actions taken by their clients”. It’s a neat game of “connect-the-dots”. Any treaty built this way acts like a crossword puzzle where you only get the real meaning once you’ve solved all the riddles which are designed to literally make most readers lose track and interest well before the end of cross-linked paragraph number 13 where you find the first hints of the practical effects.

    4) If all else fails and some anal-retentive and obsessive nitpicker takes apart the carefully constructed amendments, settle for simply solidifying in stone the parts of the existing criteria. ACTA, liberally interpreted, even assuming no under-the-table horseplay will obviously at a minimum ensure that copyright reform can ONLY go in one direction – towards longer protection periods. Where previously nations could set their own standards, once ACTA hits it will take another global treaty to move copyright in any other direction than towards more lockdown.

    5) Last-Ditch attempts. Assuming all of the above options have been exhausted, remove any and all real effects from the treaty very carefully. Then, once the parliamentary members have read and analyzed the as-is treaty, call for just one minor amendment, followed by an immediate vote. Changing an “and” to an “or” for instance. Try comparing the meaning of the following sentences in that regard:

    “The defendant will be kept liable for damages on anecdotal evidence if such evidence is presented and a jury ruling decides so…”

    “The defendant will be kept liable for damages on anecdotal evidence if such evidence is presented or a jury ruling decides so…”

    Sounds unlikely? And yet that is exactly what was done when the US hauled the so-called “Patriot Act” across the house floor. Minor amendments performed after the congress and senate had read the legislation causing massive changes in how

    End result? Disastrous end results on many levels but the national governments are still able to say that “nothing will change as an outcome of ACTA”. This is like saying that nothing will change for the worse merely by removing the seatbelts and brakes in a car. As long as you don’t actually drive the car you’re right as rain.

    And this is fundamentally how any bureaucracy works when you want to push something unpalatable all the way across the floor of a legislative body. Given the amount of “smoke and mirrors” used to push ACTA so far, I would be very surprised indeed to find the final result to be above board. Be ESPECIALLY wary of an “amended” treaty with loud verbal guarantees that anything objectionable has been cut out. At most it will be buried one layer deeper.

    Now here’s the tragedy – the only reason ACTA is even in the limelight at all is because the first versions were hamfistedly constructed. We wouldn’t even have this discussion if they’d been smarter from the get-go.

  18. 10
    Anonymous

    Edit of #8

    Where it says:

    “Minor amendments performed after the congress and senate had read the legislation causing massive changes in how…”

    Should end with:

    “…the final treaty is altogether interpreted. Miniscule amendments to grammar can and will make significant differences. A simple “not” inserted can turn the entire treaty around 180 degrees.”

  19. […] ACTA and the European Commission has had to concede yet another defeat. I’ll just quote Rick Falkvinge for the full details: “After a heated debate in Brussels today [Tuesday], the responsible […]

  20. […] then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get […]

  21. 11
    Ron

    “the European Parliament a rough equivalent of the Legislative Branch […] Except the European Parliament doesn’t get to make laws, but only to approve predrafted bills, and manyscore other oddities.”

    => Well, the European Parliament is just on half of the Legislative Branch which it shares with the EU Council where national ministers sit who have even more to say on legislation than the Parliament. Second, the Parliament does not only “approve predrafted bills”, it works on the basis of Commission proposals but can propose all sorts of amendments and following compromise with the Council relevant changes to initial Commission proposals can be made.

  22. 12
    christian

    ACTA No Pasará. Stop ACTA…

  23. […] Sköne Oke; Techpresident; ISP Review, cited by Ville Oksanen (FI); Falkvinge (EN) […]

  24. […] ACTA: Showdown Imminent, Battle Stations, Battle Stations! – Falkvinge on Infopolicy. Rate this: Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  25. 13
    Hood

    I recently stumbled upon your blog and it has been a real eye opener in just how bad things are in the corrupt world of politics today. And I sadly live in Britain and so have to put up with David Camerons economical ineptitude and toadying to big business…
    I’m currently urging everyone I know to speak out against ACTA with limited success. I find it staggering to be met with casual indiference and “it doesn’t affect me” mentality. Thankyou for all of your work in making sure that these issues are brought to our attention!

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About The Author

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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