In a recent update on the piracy front, the European Commission stalled the approval of ACTA this past Wednesday in response to widespread protests claiming the legislation will not only have a significant impact on free speech around the world, but might also reduce or eliminate the availability of such essential products as generic brand medications in developing countries due to some of ACTA’s provisions on patents and patent infringement.
Although the EC has stalled ACTA’s final approval, however, the Comission did express support for the legislation in a formal statement explaining its actions. The Commission has referred ACTA to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, and clarified that the “European Commission has a responsibility to provide our parliamentary representatives and the public at large with the most detailed and accurate information available. So, a referral [to the European Court of Justice] will allow for Europe’s top court to independently clarify the legality of this agreement.”
For more information, including a link to the European Commission’s statement on ACTA, see:
Regarding the ACTA protests, the picture included in the above article shows members of Poland’s Palikot’s Movement protesting their country signing ACTA at the end of January by holding up the “V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes mask, further popularized by hacker group Anonymous:
People across Europe have also taken to the streets to oppose ACTA’s approval. More information, and a list of the latest countries with citizens engaging in such protest, can be found here:
Congratulations on the end of exams!! Although it’s vacation time and very nearly Christmas, there is some important activity on the intellectual property law front that definitely bears checking out in the midst of holiday preparations. You may have heard in recent weeks of the Stop Online Piracy Act (alternatively known in the Senate as the “Protect IP Act of 2011”), a pending piece of legislation currently before Congress containing language that could essentially legalize government censorship of the internet in the USA. If you have been wondering about the legislation’s implications, and/or if you have been searching for a concise legal analysis of both SOPA and Protect IP, may we direct you to:
In this article, Mark Lemley (William H. Neukom Professor at Stanford Law School), David Levine (Assistant Professor at Elon University School of Law) and David Post (Professor at Beasley School of Law, Temple University) break down the most problematic aspects of both bills–namely, language that could allow for explicit violations of the rights of due process and freedom of speech.
Before even reaching issues of constitutionality, both SOPA and Protect IP contain language capable of attacking the fundamental infrastructure of the internet:
“Credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions could be ordered to ‘prevent, prohibit, or suspend’ all dealings with [a] site associated with [a] domain name [deemed to be “dedicated to infringing activities”]. Online advertisers could be ordered to cease providing advertising services to the site associated with the domain name. Search engine providers could be ordered to ‘remove or disable access to the Internet site associated with the domain name,’ and to disable all hypertext links to the site.”
But both bills go further still, allowing for “these remedies [to be] meted out by courts after nothing more than ex parte proceedings—proceedings at which only one side…need present evidence and the operator of the allegedly infringing site need not be present nor even made aware that the action was pending against his or her ‘property.'”
Check out the article for a complete analysis of the issue, and we will try to keep this blog updated as Congress continues to deal with both SOPA and Protect IP.