ACTA: to keep in mind

De La Quadrature du Net


This page lists key points to remember in any discussion about ACTA




Main arguments[modifier]

Against ACTA in general[modifier]

  • ACTA turns Internet companies (ISPs, service providers) into a private copyright police by forcing to take legal responsibility for what their users do online.
  • ACTA brings broad and dangerous criminal sanctions in a loosely defined way.
  • ACTA bypasses democracy and opens the door to a parallel legislative process, which the European MPs should be particularly angry about.

When calling the INTA committee[modifier]

The INTA's report is against ACTA. Ask the vote for the report in its actual state without amendments.

Arguments against ACTA's adoption[modifier]

  • ACTA will affect small and innovative market entrants

ACTA will have a chilling effect on innovation. By extending the scope of criminal sanctions for “aiding and abetting” to “infringement on a commercial scale”, ACTA will create legal tools threatening any Internet actor. Widespread social practices such as not-for-profit file-sharing between individuals, editing content on successful or popular news websites, or making accessible innovative tools of distribution, could be interpreted as “commercial scale”. Access, service or hosting providers, website editors will therefore suffer from massive legal uncertainty, making them vulnerable to litigation by the entertainment industries. This will force them to implement censorship measures harming the free Internet.
analysis of ACTA's “criminal sanctions” chapter

  • ACTA will lead to extra-judicial censorship measures

If ACTA is adopted, it will be possible for the entertainment industry to exert pressure on every Internet actor under the threat of criminal sanctions for “aiding and abetting” infringements (art.23.4) and under the guise of “cooperation” between both parties (art.27.3). ACTA also mentions “expeditious measures to deter further infringements” (art.27.1). Under this legal framework, Internet actors will be gradually compelled to deploy automated blocking, filtering of communications and deletion of online content. Such measures will inevitably restrict users' freedoms online.
analysis of ACTA's digital chapter

  • ACTA makes no distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit infringements

ACTA modifies the scope of criminal sanctions in EU Member States, ensuring they will be applied for cases of infringement on a “commercial scale”, defined as inducing “direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage” (art. 23.1). This term is vague, open to interpretation, and just plainly wrong when it comes to determining the scope of proportionate enforcement, as it does not make any distinction between commercial and non-profit infringement.
23.10 of ACTA

Arguments against waiting for EU Court of Justice opinion on ACTA[modifier]

Delaying the consent procedure of the EU Parliament by waiting for the ECJ opinion would center the debate on legal issues, and the EP would be perceived as escaping its political responsibility.

  • 4 EU Parliament committees have urged for the rejection of ACTA, undergoing a thorough political assessment that is enough to justify the rejection of ACTA. The lead committee, on "International Trade", also recommended the whole Parliament to reject ACTA.
  • By contrast, the ECJ opinion will be legalistic in nature, leaving out important political issues (see art. 218.11 TFEU). In particular, the opinion will probably not look at the crucial fact that ACTA would set in stone today's contentious policies (an impact study is still expected on EUCD and IPRED). It would block any possibility for the EU and national lawmakers to propose positive reforms in this field.

The procedure in the European Parliament[modifier]

For detailed information about the ACTA procedure in the European system, please see this page ACTA: Procedure in the European Parliament.

How to act?[modifier]

To help us fight ACTA, visit our page How to act against ACTA.

Learn more[modifier]

  • You should also read our counter-arguments to the Commission's disinformation about ACTA, it answers most arguments that you might encounter by those defending ACTA.

The following resources are also helpful in better understanding ACTA: