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An intensive debate about the so-called secret international discussions on a global intelectual property treaty is taking place at European level.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is currently negotiated between the EU and some industrialised countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States).

The treaty has been presented first and foremost as a way of tackling physical forgeries, such as designer handbags or or pirated DVDs. But leaks reveal that it will also have a much broader scope, including the sensitive issue of intellectual copyright on the internet. According to these leaks, the US is pushing for a global version of the so-called "three strikes law" - a measure by which people who illegally download music or films receive warnings but ultimately face having their internet cut off and going to jail.

At the same time, it has been said that negotiators at the global talks were attempting to rewrite current EU rules on the liability of internet service providers (ISPs) for pirated content on their networks.

However, officials from the European Commission denied those allegations and added that under the EU's Commerce laws, ISPs can already be held liable for content on their network if they do not meet certain requirements.

But Members of the European Parliament have protested against the secretive nature of the talks and allege that trade envoys are seeking to bypass the political process and introduce unpopular policies and requested the European Commission to send them minutes and documents from the negotiations.

The next talks on ACTA are scheduled to take place in April, in Wellington, New Zealand, but, as long as these negotiations remain covered in secrecy, there are still concerns that the agreement will infringe internet users' rights by allowing content filtering or disconnecting users without a due process, a draft policy that was already rejected by MEPs.

More about this issue on http://www.euractiv.com/en/infosociety/brussels-denies-rumours-secr....

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