EU to seek publication of anti-piracy deal

(AP) -- The European Union said Monday it wants the United States and others to publish a draft global anti-piracy deal to end rumors that it advocates cutting off Internet access for illegal downloaders.

European Internet service providers said last month that they were alarmed by leaked details of the secret talks that they feared could lead to criminal sanctions and "three strikes and you're out" cease-and-desist orders to cut off access for users who share copyrighted content.

They worry about legal changes that could make them liable when users break the law and warn that this would damage users' rights to privacy and freedom of expression and ultimately stifle innovation and competition in Europe's Internet industry.

EU trade official Luc Pierre Devigne told a European Commission public hearing that the EU would seek to get the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and others to agree on publishing a draft text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement at April talks in New Zealand.

He said details of international talks are usually secret but that the EU was anxious to assure European users that it wasn't planning to strike a global deal that would force any changes to EU law.

"We want to have the negotiating document released so that rumors can be dispelled," he said. "Three strikes is no one's idea, no one has ever proposed that."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had advocated a "three strikes and you're out" rule, under which would be tracked and users caught downloading would be warned twice before their Internet access would be cut off for a year. Britain is considering similar legislation.


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