European Parliament overwhelmingly rejects ACTA

The culmination of weeks of campaigning and lobbying against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) came this morning, as the European Parliament voted 478 to 39 to reject it, despite the fact that twenty-two member states, including the United Kingdom, had already signed it. As a result, the Agreement is now likely to become irrelevant without the support of European Union nations.

The Agreement had already been rejected by five Committees of the European Parliament, and despite attempts by Conservative MEPs to defer the vote, as urged by UNI MEI, a “global union for the Media, Entertainment and Art Industries”, until the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union was announced, MEPs from across the political spectrum came together to conclusively defeat it.

As noted by Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England, after the Agreement was rejected by the International Trade Committee two weeks ago;
 
“Liberal Democrat MEPs take the issue of copyright and counterfeiting very seriously as property rights – including intellectual property rights – form the basis of our economy and also help prevent dangerous counterfeit products, such as medicines, electronics and toys from entering our markets. 
 
“However, the ACTA negotiations have been marked from the beginning by an unnecessary lack of transparency and wider consultation and a potential attack on the fundamental civil rights of individual internet users. On balance, concerns with regard to civil rights outweigh the limited benefits of ACTA, to which even major countries known for their counterfeit products – such as China – have not subscribed.”

After the vote, Marietje Schaake (D66, Netherlands), ALDE spokesperson on digital freedom, claimed;

“Today marks a victory for European democracy and for digital freedoms. As we close the ACTA chapter we must now focus on reforming copyright management and completing the European digital single market. In any future enforcement of trade treaties we need sector specific approaches to counterfeiting and must differentiate between tangible goods and digital content. In this reform process different stakeholders should be part of an inclusive, transparent and democratic decision making process.”

ACTA’s survival now depends on whether or not the US will ratify it, and while President Obama has previously shown his support for the treaty, digital freedom campaigners there are certain to maintain their opposition, especially in a Presidential election year.

* Mark Valladares is a member of the Council of the European Liberal Democrats. He can’t see Brussels from Creeting St Peter

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9 Comments

  • Good job we’re in the EU.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Jul '12 - 5:12pm

    Indeed … the UK signed ACTA without consulting parliament.
    The official roll-call of votes is on p19-20 of this PDF document:
    http://t.co/8PhZAQ3m
    It looks like Tory MEPs abstained, while all other UK MEPs present voted against. Except for our Bill Newton-Dunn, who appears to be the only UK MEP to have voted in favour of ACTA 🙁

  • The notion that “intellectual property rights form the basis of our economy” is surely a gross exaggeration if not an outright lie.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 5th Jul '12 - 10:14am

    David,

    If she had said that, and she didn’t, I would agree with you. What she did say was;

    … property rights – including intellectual property rights – form the basis of our economy…

    And whether you agree that they should, property rights certainly do form the basis of our economy.

  • Stuart Mitchell 5th Jul '12 - 7:21pm

    So you have a “civil right” to make yourself a counterdeit DVD, but not to make yourself a counterfeit Rolex watch. Right. This is just the usual special pleading from web-heads who think their on-line activity should not be subject to the same sort of considerations that people have to abide by in other spheres of life. The people who work in our film, music and software industries should have exactly the same right to profit from the work that they do (and exceptionally high risks that they take) as people in any other industry. These people are getting absolutely hammered, and it would be nice to hear some politicians speaking up for them once in a while instead of constantly pandering to the downloaders.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Jul '12 - 10:14pm

    @Stuart Mitchell

    special pleading from web-heads who think their on-line activity should not be subject to the same sort of considerations that people have to abide by in other spheres of life.

    NO IT IS NOT. It is the REJECTION of special pleading from entrenched media/content companies who think that enforcement of their claimed rights online should not be subject to the same sort of considerations that people have to abide by in other spheres of rights, namely due process and the rule of law.

  • It doesn’t feel like a victory when my supposedly liberal MEP (Bill Newton Dunn)voted for it. Why did I vote for him again?

  • Stuart Mitchell 8th Jul '12 - 7:19pm

    @Alex
    Shouting does not make a false assertion any more true. Perhaps you can give an example of an “entrenched” (whatever that means) media company which is riding roughshod over the rule of law in an attempt to protect its copyrights.

    The likes of the “Pirate Party” are quite explicit that they don’t object to somebody being prosecuted for, say, flogging fake DVDs down a market, but regard it as a violation of human rights when somebody is prosecuted for profiting from pirating material online. It’s special pleading.

  • Alex Macfie 13th Jul '12 - 1:33pm

    Lobbying for laws passed to get people kicked off the Internet on the basis of accusations (NOT convictions) of online copyright infringement (e.g. the UK’s own Digital Economy Act) is an obvious example of media companies riding roughshod over the rule of law in an attempt to protect its copyrights. They think they should be exempt from the usual requirements of having to gather evidence of infringement that can be tested in a court of law. It’s special pleading

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