Leaked Acta documents hint at online liabilities for ISPs

Europe's internet service providers may soon have to do much more to control the content on their networks.

Europe's internet service providers may soon have to do much more to control the content on their networks.

This emerged from leaked documents revealed yesterday by Monica Horten, who runs the iptegrity blog on EU law-making.

She said Europe and the US may be close to finalising the wording of the controversial multilateral Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).

Horten said the commission boasted that it had negotiated "innovative provisions" for enforcement on the internet, and that it was close to achieving a detailed regime on ISP liability, which would apply to trade marks as well as copyright.

"A raft of EU documents discussing changes emerged unexpectedly in the public domain yesterday. The documents, which appear to originate from within the Acta team in DG Trade, signal that the US and EU are close to sorting out their differences, with the EU 'winning' on some matters," she said.

"It's notable that the examples of the trade marks that would be protected state 'textile, luxury goods and cosmetics'. This gives us a fair indication of who has been lobbying for these provisions. At a guess, they include luxury goods conglomerate LVMH and the cosmetics firm, L'Oreal," she said. Both firms have sued eBay for allegedly selling goods that counterfeited their products.

Horten said one document clarified that the internet enforcement provisions of the agreement apply to all intellectual property rights including geographic indicators such as Scotch. This implied that the EU had scored over the US if this was in the final agreement, she said.

"There is still some ambiguity about the position of trade marks in Acta," she said, "but peer-to-peer file sharing clearly remains the target."

The next meeting of Acta negotiators is scheduled for 30 November to 4 December in Sydney, Australia.

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