Germany Refuses to Sign Copyright Treaty

NEWS, 13 Feb 2012

Monsters and Critics – TRANSCEND Media Service

Germany will not sign an international copyright treaty, despite having already agreed to it in principle, government sources in Berlin said Friday [10 Feb 2012], after protests over its implications for internet users.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), initiated by the United States and Japan, seeks to protect intellectual property rights, ‘including infringement taking place in the digital environment.’

It was signed by the European Union and 22 of its 27 member states in January. Germany said at the time it would soon follow suit.

But since January, the treaty has been the subject of widespread protest, mainly by internet users, who say it will require signatory countries to punish even non-commercial breaches of copyright with criminal prosecution and jail terms.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to take part in protests in 60 German cities on Saturday [11 Feb 2012], while the international coordinator of the campaign group Stopp ACTA told dpa that it expected 150,000 to 200,000 protests to take place worldwide.

Poland stopped the ratification process of the treaty last week after nationwide protests and attacks on government websites. Similar attacks led the Czech government to suspend its ratification of the treaty earlier this week. Latvia also followed suit.

Despite the EU’s signature, it still needs ratification by the European Parliament and the individual states before it can come into effect.

ACTA foresees that internet providers divulge details such as a user’s IP address so that people can be identified in cases of copyright infringement.

After rejecting protesters’ concerns last week, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said Friday that she was pleased that a debate about ACTA was being ‘led so openly and enthusiastically.’

‘It’s necessary that all the facts are on the table,’ she added.

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