International Trade Committee votes against Acta

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International Trade Committee votes against Acta

Jennifer Scott

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) has been dealt another blow as an influential European parliamentary committee rejected its adoption.

The International Trade Committee voted against the proposed Acta legislation by 19 votes to 12. The lead member, UK MEP David Martin, said Acta was too vague a document to become law.  

The premise of Acta is to protect the copyright of both physical and online products with standard rules and punishments for infringement. 

But critics say Acta would lead to a censorship of the internet and result in extreme penalties for online file sharers.

One major area of contention was how Acta was created in the first place. A number of member states had signed up the proposal, including the UK, but the European Parliament had not been consulted during the process, with other officials pushing on regardless.

“Now, because of the Lisbon Treaty, parliament cannot be ignored in trade agreements and we have made our voice heard here today,” said David Martin.

“If Acta had started under the Lisbon Treaty, the commission would have had a legal obligation to keep us informed at each stage of negotiation.”

The vote today is believed to be indicative of the result of the European Parliament’s vote on Acta in July, which Martin predicted would go against by 2:1.

“I estimate it will be a 2:1 vote against, with around 200 for and 400 against, although it is hard to predict,” he said during a debate at the Westminster base for the European Parliament and European Commission (EC) last month.

“I find it impossible it will get through as it stands.”

In May, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, admitted the legislation was effectively dead, following a number of protests against the bill in the UK, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.

“We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against Acta, which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet," Neelie Kroes told a conference in Berlin, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“This is a strong new political voice. And as a force for openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject. 

"We are now likely to be in a world without Sopa and without Acta."


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