EU Parliament Sounds Death Knell for ACTA Treaty

June 24th, 2012

Published on The Wall Street Journal, by Jacob Anbinder, June 22, 2012.

BRUSSELS (Dow Jones)–The European Parliament’s trading committee Thursday voted against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, meaning lawmakers are even more likely to vote down the controversial piracy treaty when it comes before the full parliament early next month.  

The 19-to-12 vote is the fifth parliamentary committee recommendation against adopting the legislation, which would establish a new international organization dedicated to fighting international counterfeiting and protecting a vast array of intellectual property rights from medicine patents to computer software.

“I am pleased that the majority of the committee decided that civil liberties would win over,” said MEP David Martin, who has led the campaign in the International Trade Committee against the treaty.

The plans have not only attracted public criticism, but also pitted EU institutions against each other. The European Commission, the bloc’s legislative arm, asked the Court of Justice in February to review the provisions of ACTA. And though the judges are unlikely to release their opinion before 2013, the commission has maintained the treaty’s fate should depend on a legal assessment of its constitutionality.

The parliament’s opposition isn’t unanimous, however. The center-right European People’s Party, the largest bloc in parliament, shares the commission’s opinion.

“The judgment of the court would have allowed a more conscious and peaceful vote,” said MEP Cristiana Muscardini in a statement. MEPs are set to vote on the measures on July 4.

Civil liberties advocates, who have long criticized the agreement for the substantial investigatory power they say the new organization would possess, applauded the committee’s decision.

“We think it’s a very important step for the European Parliament to have listened to the concerns of citizens,” said Joe McNamee, a lobbyist for European Digital Rights.

Though 22 member states and the EU itself have already signed ACTA, no legislative body has yet ratified it. Thursday’s vote, which comes after similar votes by four other committees, shows increasing consensus among parliamentarians in Brussels that ACTA is inviable regardless of the Luxembourg-based court’s opinion.

“The majority decided that ACTA was a political decision, not a legal decision,” said Martin.

ACTA has encountered opposition on many fronts since news of its development 2008. Advocates of transparency condemned the EU and U.S. governments for denying requests to release certain documents from preliminary negotiations … (full text).

Links:

BT Pirate Bay block already breached by proxy sites says Pirate Party, June 21, 2012; l

Rogue Vogue: Pirate Party Keelhauled over Scruffy Outfits, on Spiegel Online International, by kla, June 20, 2012 – and the Photo Gallery: The Pirate Party’s Freaks and Geeks;

Court rejects ‘Pirate Party’ in their bid to claim name, on Taipei Times, June 23, 2012;

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement ACTA treaty: … is a multinational treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, or the United Nations …

Pirate Party on en.wikipedia: … is a label adopted by political parties in different countries. Pirate Parties support civil rights, direct democracy and participation, reform of copyright and patent law, free sharing of knowledge (Open Content), data privacy, transparency, freedom of information, free education, universal healthcare and a clear separation between church and state[citation needed]. They advocate network neutrality and universal, unrestricted access to the Internet as indispensable conditions to some of this …

Pirate Party UK: on their own website, on en.wikipedia;

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