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May 29, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Your MEPs can help stop ACTA this week

There are three crucial votes this week in the battle over ACTA. If you care about the treaty, this is a week to do something about it.


*UPDATE* May 31st 2012: All three committees (JURI, ITRE and LIBE) today voted against ACTA. A huge thank you to everyone who contacted their MEPs to express their concerns. You can read our reaction here

A number of MEPs are involved in some key votes in the European Parliament this Thursday, May 31st about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Whilst we have made great headway with MEPs in explaining why we believe ACTA is so flawed, it is by no means certain that ACTA has been defeated.

The votes this Thursday, in three of the Committees responsible for offering 'Opinions' on the treaty, will really affect whether the European Parliament ultimately rejects ACTA or not. It is important that your MEP understand people's concerns. And calling your MEP will help make this happen.

If you care about ACTA this really is an excellent, and relatively easy, way to do something about it.

It would really help if you could call the MEPs we have listed below.

We have split the MEPs by region – it is especially useful if to call them if you are a constituent of theirs. We have made it clear which committees they are members of, and outlined the key points for each committee, so you have an idea of what to talk to them about.

There are two really important things to say to them:

  1. Tell them why you care about ACTA. We have set out why we are concerned in a briefing note, which may help.
  2. Ask them to help oppose the treaty by rejecting ACTA through their committees' opinions.
You don't have to call them all of course. Although the more, the better. Oh, and remember to be polite - they're considering ACTA, not responsible for it!

Why are these votes important?

Each of these Committees will have to agree an opinion about ACTA, which will essentially set out whether they think it is an acceptable treaty from their perspective. These opinions will, in turn, be taken into account by the lead Committee, 'INTA' (which is the Committee on International Trade). And then the European Parliament will be influenced by this in the final 'plenary' vote in early July.

So that means the more these Committees say they are unhappy about ACTA, the more likely it becomes that the European Parliament will reject ACTA when it comes to vote in early July.

So what's happening this Thursday?

Three Committees will be voting this Thursday:

  1. Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) will vote on MEP Gallo's Opinion on ACTA
  2. The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) will vote on MEP Droutsas' Opinion
  3. The Industry Committee (ITRE) will vote on MEP Andersdotter's Opinion.

1. The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) and MEP Gallo's Opinion.

The JURI Committee will be voting on MEP Gallo's draft report. We believe this report should be rejected by the Committee. Here are three of the key reasons:

  1. MEP Gallo's report fails to acknowledge the dangers of private policing of the Internet, which is encouraged by ACTA.
  2. ACTA may not create new laws in the EU, but it does bind the EU to existing law and limits possibility of revision in the future. 
  3. MEP Gallo's report cites the European Parliament's legal services' opinions on ACTA. But some key elements of the legal services' opinions on ACTA have not been made public. The EU Parliament refused to publish them in full, unredacted form, saying that it would “seriously interfere with the complex ratification process”.

La Quadrature du Net have some more analysis of this over at their website.

2. The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) will vote on MEP Droutsas' Opinion.

We believe the LIBE Committee report from Rapporteur Dimitrios Droutsas should be supported. Rapporteur Droutsas' Opinion says:

"an adoption of ACTA would prematurely strangle the debate and tip the balance on one side, would allow for Member States to experiment on laws that could potentially harm fundamental freedoms and set precedents that could be undesirable for future societies."

The Rapporteur also highlights:

  • The legal uncertainty that ACTA would create
  • The lack of limitations and safeguards in the treaty
  • Concerns about the monitoring that may be involved in the identification of alleged copyright infringers.

3. The Industry Committee (ITRE) and MEP Andersdotter's Opinion.

The ITRE Committee will be voting on their Rapporteur MEP Andersdotter's report. We believe this should be supported, without the amendments some have proposed to water this down. The original report expresses concern that:

"the ACTA text does not ensure a fair balance between the right to intellectual property and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information"

and:

"creates legal uncertainty for European companies and in particular SMEs, technology users, online platform and internet service providers."

We believe the proposed amendments to MEP Andersdotter's report, particularly calling to postpone the debate and votes, should be rejected. For more on the proposed amendments, see La Quadrature du Net's update


Which MEPs are involved?

These MEPs will be voting this Thursday – we've split them by region, and noted which Committees they are members of. Please call these MEPs - especially if you are constituents of theirs. 

North West

Arlene McCARTHY, Labour
Committee: JURI
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45501
Email: arlene.mccarthy@europarl.europa.eu

Sajjad KARIM, Conservative
Committee: The LIBE,  ITRE and JURI
Group: ECR
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45640 - +322 28 47640
Email: sajjad.karim@europarl.europa.eu

Nick GRIFFIN, British National Party
Committee: The Industry Committee (ITRE)

Group: N/A
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45772 - +322 28 47772
Email: nick.griffin@europarl.europa.eu

North East England

Fiona HALL, Liberal Democrat 
Committee: ITRE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45561 - +322 28 47561 
E-mail: fiona.hall@europarl.europa.eu

Yorkshire and the Humber

Andrew Henry William BRONS, British National Party
CommitteeLIBE
Group: N/A
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45773 - +322 28 47773
Email: andrew.brons@europarl.europa.eu

Timothy KIRKHOPE, Conservatives
Committee: LIBE
Group: ECR 
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45321 - +322 28 47321 
timothy.kirkhope@europarl.europa.eu

Rebecca TAYLOR, Liberal Democrats 
Committee: JURI
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45201 - +322 28 47201 
E-mail: rebecca.taylor@europarl.europa.eu

West Midlands

Anthea McINTYRE, Conservative 
Committee: LIBE 
Group: ECR
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45106 - +322 28 47106 
Courriel: anthea.mcintyre@europarl.europa.eu

Michael CASHMAN, Labour 
Committee: LIBE
Group: SD 
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45759 - +322 28 47759 
Email: michael.cashman@europarl.europa.eu

East Midlands

Glenis WILLMOTT, Labour
Committee: LIBE
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45459 - +322 28 47459 
Email: glenis.willmott@europarl.europa.eu

Roger HELMER, UKIP
Committee: ITRE
Group: EFD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45764 - +322 28 47764 
E-mail: roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu

East of England

Vicky FORD, Conservative
Committee: ITRE
Group: ECR 
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45672 - +322 28 47672 
E-mail: vicky.ford@europarl.europa.eu

London

Gerard BATTEN, UKIP
Committee: LIBE and JURI
Group: EFD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45920 - +322 28 47920
Email: gerard.batten@europarl.europa.eu

Mary HONEYBALL, Labour
Committee: JURI
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45209 - +322 28 47209
Email: mary.honeyball@europarl.europa.eu

Jean LAMBERT, Green
Committee: LIBE
Group: Greens/EFA
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45507 - +322 28 47507
Email: jean.lambert@europarl.europa.eu

Baroness Sarah LUDFORD, Liberal Democrat
Committee: LIBE
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45104 - +322 28 47104
Courriel: sarah.ludford@europarl.europa.eu

Claude MORAES, Labour
Committee: LIBE
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45553 - +322 28 47553
Email: claude.moraes@europarl.europa.eu

South East of England

Sharon BOWLES, Liberal Democrat
Committee: JURI
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45221 - +322 28 47221
E-mail: sharon.bowles@europarl.europa.eu

Peter SKINNER, Labour
Committee: ITRE
Group: SD
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45458 - +322 28 47458
Email: peter.skinner@europarl.europa.eu

South West of England

Sir Graham WATSON, Liberal Democrats
Committee: LIBE
Group: ALDE
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45626 - +322 28 47626
Courriel: graham.watson@europarl.europa.eu

Giles CHICHESTER, Conservative
Committee: ITRE
Group: ECR
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45296 - +322 28 47296
E-mail: giles.chichester@europarl.europa.eu

Scotland

Alyn SMITH, SNP
Committee: ITRE
Group: Greens/EFA
Brussels Tel.: +322 28 45187 - +322 28 47187
E-mail: alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu

 

Get calling!

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Comments (3)

  1. Paul Evans:
    May 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM

    In fairness, anyone contacting MEPs using this briefing should really offer a bit of a spoiler alert: That while there are a few weasel words around 'oh of course we believe that copyright is important, blah blah blah,' that the authors of the briefing have shown no evidence of believing that it should be enforced in any practical way.

    I know, that - as it was put to me on Twitter - that "(a) One eg: work around ad networks and payment providers cld be a reasonable route, done properly."

    This is so weak and highly caveatted that it amounts to a view that copyright is really no priority at all.

    Until you either say you think copyright should be disregarded, or can come up with workeable suggestions on enforcing it, you don't deserve to be taken seriously here.

  2. Peter Bradwell:
    May 30, 2012 at 04:54 PM

    Hi Paul. Thanks for your comment. Hadn't heard from you for a day or so - I was starting to wonder if you were ok! I want to say first of all that I respect your position on ACTA, and can appreciate the good faith in which you hold it.

    Here's what we're doing here. We're providing information about an issue that has become a common concern for a broad range of people. We've offered our own clear analysis of flaws in the treaty as we see it. In encouraging engagement, we've tried to simply explain what can seem like a complicated political process taking place in the European Parliament, to facilitate people having their say to their elected representatives. We encourage people to think for themselves and to be polite in their conversations with MEPs and their staff.

    Here's what I hear from you. You keep coming on to our blog or posting on Twitter in order to shout that Open Rights Group actually secretly just want to remove *any* copyright enforcement, or whatever it is you are trying to convince people of.

    I know which one of those approaches I take more seriously. You're repeatedly playing the man not the ball. Whether it is deliberate or not, you're deflecting attention from the issue at hand or, less generously, avoiding taking on the arguments involved head on.

    Disagreeing with us is absolutely fine, and not unexpected or indeed unwelcome in a complex debate, and as I say I completely respect your opinion about whether ACTA is a good treaty or not.

    But I prefer it when the locus of a disagreement is a substantive issue, or an analysis of our arguments, rather than what others seem to have convinced themselves are our motives. We may be wrong about some of these things, and we stand waiting to be convinced of that on the merits of the arguments presented.

    In the meantime we will continue to offer our analyses, for example of proposals like ACTA that involve regulation that affect the internet, and attempt to provide those who we manage to convince with easy and constructive ways to engage with the policy makers involved.

  3. Paul Evans:
    May 30, 2012 at 06:28 PM

    Thanks Peter. I don't see the 'playing the man and not the ball' argument though.

    A cloaked agenda is a cloaked agenda. Your choice of multilateral trading treaties to express concerns about isn't an accident is it? You've picked the one that helps improve copyright enforcement as opposed to a range of secretive compacts on ... I don't know.... food labelling?

    I mean, if you were to come right out and demonstrate that you do, in fact, think that copyright is an important part of our political and economic settlement and were to offer practical means by which it can be enforced so as not to undermine a large part of our creative base, then we can move onto the more substantive issues around particular global trade treaties.

    But if you object to every practical measure of enforcement, and use what I believe to be bogus arguments (civil liberties, censorship, etc) then I think any neutral observer can draw their own conclusions.

    I've not seen anything that contradicts the view that ORG will use any arguments to oppose any forms of copyright enforcement. If this is the case, then we're looking at a false-flag operation and you deserve to be called out on it. If not, then my questioning is hardly doing you any harm, is it?

    I've argued the civil liberties / censorship case at some length in the comments here and I honestly don't think that a neutral observer would say that my arguments were inaccurate or unfair - and I don't think they've been rebutted either.

    Having watched various global treaties for many years, I'd be happy to get into an argument about how ACTA is or isn't unusually secretive or 'cooked up behind closed doors' if you like? Shorter answer is that, leaving aside the word 'unusually' I'd say that all of that does apply to ACTA in the same way that it applies to all global or semi-global trading compacts. These are not subjects that are discussed on the Clapham Omnibus, and I've written a great deal elsewhere about how we need to make policy more consumable in order to involve more people (my own open rights advocacy).

    On the other hand we could skip the starter and get onto the main dish: Do you actually think that our copyright settlement is not fit for purpose? If so, what do you propose in its place and what evidence do you have that any such change won't do enormous damage to a section of the economy that is particularly important to the UK? And as a group that is selectively protective of individual liberties, how about looking at the rights of individual creators who just don't want their work sharing - fee or no fee - without their permission?

    At the moment, the ORG group looks like an outfit that privately wishes copyright were just abolished and it's playing along with a strategy (one that has very wealthy backers) to 'kick the can down the road' by disrupting the debate until there's nothing left to argue over. Then Google step it, proclaim themselves the monopolistic collecting society and we see a large transfer of wealth away from the creatives and to the techies.

    In the meantime, I still think that your work - in all honestly - should carry a disclaimer saying "ORG are against copyright enforcement" because not doing so distorts the debate.



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