Earlier this week, the Japanese government released a statement announcing an October 1 signing event which suggested the EU would be among the signatories. In fact, it appears their representative will be one of three mentioned who will not be participating in the ceremony.
Yesterday Out-Law.com reported that a spokesperson for the European Commission corrected the earlier report in a statement:
The EU has not yet completed its internal procedures authorising the signature, therefore it will not be signing ACTA at this event. Neither will Mexico and Switzerland, since they did not conclude their domestic proceedings.
For the EU, the domestic process for signature is that the Council [of Ministers] adopts a decision authorising a EU representative to sign ACTA. Since this required the translation of the treaty in all the EU languages, such decision has not yet been adopted. It may still require a couple of months for the EU to be able to sign ACTA. After the signature, the European Parliament will have to vote its consent of ACTA.
The EU, and anyone else who doesn't sign the treaty initially, will have until May of 2013 to do so.
ACTA has been widely criticized, with complaints ranging from the way it was negotiated (in secret and at the direction of US entertainment industry lobbyists) to controversial requirements that would require major changes to both civil and criminal law in nearly every country involved in the agreement.
For example, it would require that minimum damages be mandated in copyright infringement cases. This is a key component of various lawsuit campaigns in the US, where such statutory damages already exist. The possibility of paying as much as $150,000 per violation makes the risk of defending yourself too high for most people.
Under ACTA, each country would also have to change copyright law to allow rights holders greater leeway in damage calculations for infringement lawsuits. In addition, it would require that rights holders be allowed to forbid the use of technological measures to circumvent copy protection, even when it is used to enable an otherwise legal activity.
The language in ACTA has been toned down significantly since early drafts of the document began leaking nearly two years ago. Still, there are serious questions about whether it would violate EU data protection laws or even various fundamental rights.
Read the full text (published by the European Commission) to decide for yourself.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 29 Sep 2011 9:34