European Parliament rejects ACTA

Following recent recommendations by a number of European committees, the infamous Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has been shot down today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

With 478 members of the parliament voting against the agreement, 39 in favor and 165 abstaining from the vote, ACTA has sustained a serious blow – in this form, at least.

The Parliament’s decision effectively means that European member states cannot now join the agreement, despite the fact that many of them have initially signed it.

ACTA’s goal to protect intellectual propriety, especially that of digital goods, by prosecuting and heavily sanctioning those who share music, movies and software online has been found less important that protecting the citizens’ rights to Internet freedom and privacy.

This was the first time that the European Parliament exercised its Lisbon Treaty power to reject an international trade agreement and, according to the press release issued by the Parliament, the final decision was heavily influenced by the “unprecedented direct lobbying by thousands of EU citizens who called on it to reject ACTA, in street demonstrations, e-mails to MEPs and calls to their offices.”

“This is a remarkable development that was virtually unthinkable even a year ago. Much credit goes to the thousands of Europeans who spoke out against ACTA and to the Members of the European Parliament who withstood enormous political pressure to vote against the deal,” Michael Geist, ACTA expert and vocal opponent, commented the news on his blog.

“ACTA is not yet dead – it may still eke out the necessary six ratifications in a year or two for it to take effect – but it is badly damaged and will seemingly never achieve the goals of its supporters as a model for other countries to adopt and to emerge as a new global standard for IP enforcement,” he added, advising ACTA opponents not to get complacent about this welcome but not final victory.

“In the coming weeks and months, we can expect new efforts to revive the agreement within Europe and to find alternative means to implement its provisions.”

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