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Acta is Refused by the Bulgarians; but is It Really Such a Draconian Treaty?

Posted on the 16 February 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Acta is refused by the Bulgarians; but is it really such a draconian treaty?

Anti-Acta demonstrators in Bulgaria. Photocredit:

Acta, the European treaty (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, to give it its full nomenclature) which aims to protect trademark theft and online piracy, has now come under fire from the Bulgarians, amongst others. It’s the sixth European country to have refused to sign. 22 countries have; but it’s yet to reach the European Parliament. Like the debate over Sopa and Pipa in America, the legislation is seen as draconian, infringing internet users’ rights and privacies over fears that those who download movies for free – which happens a lot in Bulgaria, a poor country – will be imprisoned. 4,000 people marched in the country’s capital, Sofia, in a similar manner to rallies in other Eastern European countries, and France, Germany and Iceland. In Holland, the Dutch Lower House has tabled a motion to refrain from signing Acta.

Anonymous reaching out tendrils. This comes in the same week as the Anonymous activist collective hacked into the private emails of New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully, and sent out emails mocking him. They did this after New Zealand passed laws which come down on illegal filesharing, and which allow the government to disconnect those who offend more than once from the internet.

“Bulgarian society is not ready to accept mechanisms which raise suspicions of violation of the freedom of expression and freedom [on the] internet,” said the Bulgarian economy minister, Traicho Traikov, quoted on The Guardian.

IP owners’ rights need to be addressed. Acta is “a more modest thing than its detractors claim,” said an editorial on The Wall Street Journal. It’s a “trade agreement”, which standardises anti-piracy measures which are “already codified in signatories’ national laws.” It’s been around for years, and it’s already been “pared back.” Legitimately speaking, it wasn’t given the public airing it should have been given – its very existence was only brought to light by WikiLeaks. It should have been touted around a bit, so that it wouldn’t have seemed so secretive. But even “if it fails”, it’s at least started an argument. We need to address IP owners’ rights – otherwise we’ll lose innovation.

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