Kader Arif is the former EU rapporteur on ACTA (the secretive copyright treaty pushed by the US Trade Rep) on Europe's behalf. He made headlines when he handed in his report on ACTA and his resignation as rapporteur, which damned ACTA as an undemocratic, overly broad and ill-conceived trainwreck. In this WSJ interview, Arif goes into detail on the problems that made ACTA utterly irredeemable, and Mike Masnick despairs at how Arif's successor in the EU is seemingly unwilling to stand up for the democratic principles that ACTA tramples.
First is the article 11 of the agreement, which states that the right holder has the right to ask for information “regarding any person involved in any aspect of the infringement or alleged infringement”. This article is worded in such wide and unclear terms that it leaves a great deal of room for interpretation. In practice, almost anyone could be linked to an infringement of intellectual property rights and face criminal sanctions under such a vague definition. It is our responsibility as legislators and people’s representatives not to leave it to a judicial authority to decide of the scope of an agreement which could affect people’s civil liberties.
The second is the issue of having travelers’ personal luggage searched at borders. ACTA foresees that the use of counterfeited goods on a commercial scale can lead to criminal sanctions. But here again no definition of “commercial scale” is given. Article 14 of the agreement clearly states that, unless contrary action is taken by one of the parties, it is possible to search people’s personal luggage, including small consignments. So if a traveler has on his laptop or MP3 player a tune or movie downloaded illegally, could he face sanctions ? How many tunes or movies would one need to set up a commercial illegal activity? In theory one would be enough… The problem again here is that ACTA does not give any clear indication. Besides the fact that it is an extremely sensitive issue to authorize for the search of all travelers’ luggage, and personally I am totally opposed to it, I see here a great risk for abuse and unjustified sanctions.