Digital Ministry: EP version of “ACTA2” unacceptable

Protest against ACTA 2 in Kraków, June 2018. Photo: PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk

Poland’s ministry responsible for digitalization is opposing the version of the copyright directive passed by the EP.

Click here to read an analysis from Poland in English.

The Ministry in its press release declares that it worked closely with the Ministry of Culture, the ministry responsible for monitoring this area of EU law, to determine the stance taken by the Polish government on the copyright directive. From the outset it was “concerned with ensuring that the regulation should not infringe on the right to free speech”.

Its stance was “reflected in the version of the directive drafted by the Bulgarian Presidency” in the first half of the year. “Unfortunately as a result of the debate in the European Parliament these regulations were changed ….The adopted content is contrary to the compromise position of the Presidency and does not meet with the acceptance of the Minister or the Ministry for Digital Affairs.”

What is “ACTA2”?

The “Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market” is a proposed EU measure intended to harmonise aspects of the EU copyright law and move towards a digital single market. The directive was approved by the EP on 12 September, and will now be discussed with the European Council. If formalised, each of the EU's member countries would then be required to enact laws to support the Directive.

The directive's specific proposals include giving press publishers direct copyright over the use of their publications by internet platforms such as online news aggregators and requiring websites, who primarily host content posted by users, to take "effective and proportionate" measures to prevent the unauthorised posting of copyrighted content or they will be liable for their users' actions.

Articles 11 and 13 have attracted widespread criticism from European and American parties. Article 11 has been criticised as a "link tax" which would require websites "to obtain a license before linking to news stories", and Article 13 as a “meme ban", on the basis that the content-matching technologies employed to meet its requirements cannot identify fair dealing such as parody. Supporters of the directive, largely media groups, publishers, and content creators, reject these arguments and claim that a disinformation and astroturfing campaign is being carried out by big internet platforms who benefit from the status quo, such as Google.

What will change?

The directive would make the deletion of memes and links possible. It would also make it obligatory to purchase licenses to publish protected material on the net. For example, placing material on the popular “Youtube” would require the purchase of a licence which would allow one to link published material.

If one decides to link to a given internet publication it would not be possible to display that publicly, it would only be shown to those directly linked to the sender. These links would look different from how they do now. There would be no headline, signature or photo of the given publication but just a series of undecipherable digits.

An increased protection of authors’ rights would serve as another layer of change. It would not be possible to show products and have them assessed online. If anyone makes an on-line transmission with music playing during it then, if that music is covered by copyright, its author will have legal rights to claim compensation from the broadcaster.

All publications on the internet would be screened according to algorithms to identify possible violations of the law. Any material identified as potentially infringing on copyright could then be removed by the administrator of the web page.

Polish MEPs divided over “ACTA 2”

Polish MEPs were divided in their views on the issue. Law and Justice deputies, along with those from the Polish People’s Party (PSL) , Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and independents voted against the measure.

MEPs from Civic Platform voted along EPP party lines to support “ACTA2”. They did so despite earlier promises that Civic Platform would be opposed to the measure. Law and Justice, who voted against “ACTA2” are members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) which remained opposed to the proposed regulation.

According to Law and Justice deputy Tomasz Poręba Civic Platform voted “to limit freedom on, and access to, the internet”. He also said that internet users would not forgive the Civic Platform deputies for their behaviour and would hold them to account at the ballot box.

Civic Platform MEP Tadeusz Zwiefka defended Civic Platform’s support for the measure. He said that it “aimed to protect internet users and ensure their safety” and would not affect their freedom on the net.

source: PAP, TVP Info


Many remember the protests over the the original ACTA. Despite bitterly cold weather thousands protested up and down Europe in 2012. It remains to be seen if such protests will be repeated this time.

Media outlets and publishers are pleased to have the prospect of protection and the likelihood of higher revenues. Others fear that it may lead to excessive policing and controls on the internet.

The “ACTA2” issues could be tricky for the Civic Platform. Many Poles disputes over the rule of law or its support for EU sanctioning Hungary , but should fears about ACTA2 be realized, they may not take kindly to those political forces that were complicit in its introduction.

For Law and Justice its not all straightforward either. The government will be under pressure inside the EU to give way on this legislation. That support could be leveraged during the discussion over the EU budget, the rule of law, or issues relating to Poland’s interests in the single market.

But for the time being Law and Justice can bask in the glory of being on the same side of the argument as the mass of internet users. In an election period it’s not a bad position to be in. There are certainly more ordinary internet users then there are those who stand to gain from income for copyright. But that minority is a vociferous and influential one , as it certainly includes parts of the media.

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