EUROPEAN MINISTERS are unlikely to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) this weekend, according to a representative of the European Commission.
National governments, including the glorious UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and US, are lining up to sign the ACTA treaty this Saturday, but the Eurocrats will not be present, according to a report at the legal news web site Out-law.com.
ACTA is voluntary and hands over the policing of copyright infringement to rights holders, which is a bit like giving cats authority over mice. The idea, at least the one put out, is that it will standardise international enforcement of intellectual property rights. However, it will also give rights holders control over things like what fine amounts to levy against copyright infringers. It's not hard to imagine that could be open to some excesses, if not outright abuses.
One of the reasons for the EU delay is that it has not picked a nominated signatory to ink the papers. Another, more serious reason is that the agreement has not been approved by the European Parliament. This means that the EU will make the most of the 18 month window for signing the treaty.
"The EU has not yet completed its internal procedures authorising the signature, therefore it will not be signing ACTA at this event," a spokesman for the EC told Out-law.com.
"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."
In November 2010 the European Parliament was making rather contented noises about ACTA, even though it believes that it will not resolve the problems of counterfeiting and illegal copying.
The agreement is a "step in the right direction", the EU Parliament said at the time, but "will not solve the complex and multi-dimensional problem of counterfeiting". µ