ACTA likely to be defeated by European vote in July

The controversial intellectual property bill will not be supported by the European Parliament, says an influential MEP.

A European vote on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is likely to take place in July, but is unlikely to win support, according to the European Parliament (EP) member responsible for reporting on the plan.

During a debate today on the bill at the Westminster base for the EP and European Commission (EC), David Martin MEP claimed the current plan was to hold a committee vote on ACTA in June, before moving it to the plenary stage in July.

However, he revealed the bill was unlikely to gain the backing of his peers.

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

Despite this negative outlook on ACTA, Martin still didn’t believe the debate was over and ACTA would raise its head again in some form or another.

“Is ACTA dead? No, but it could come into force outside the EU,” he said. “The future could be to forget the international agreement, stick with our own laws internally or make amendments to ACTA and a new treaty could be created.

“But the same ACTA would not be permissible. If they bring it back an amended treaty, the whole process would have to start again.”

Industry representatives are still calling for ACTA to be passed though, claiming it is necessary to protect British businesses at home and abroad.

Susie Winter, director of the Alliance Against IP Theft, also spoke at the debate, saying: “It is essential to the creative industries in the UK… as being able to protect their IP is vital. It is best to start this bill with a coalition of the willing… if others won’t play ball (such as China and Russia).”

However, Jim Killock, head of campaign organisation Open Rights Group, said it was wrong to try and enforce the law onto other countries.

“Is it right for a small number of developed nations to create a rule and force it onto others?” he said.

“The temptation will be there to go to Africa or South America, offer them ACTA… and use it to lower trade barriers. It is a recognised tactic from the US… but pushing bills onto other countries does not help.”

Earlier this month, Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, admitted the power of the protests against the bill would be likely to kill it off.

“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,” she told a conference in Berlin.

“We are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA.”

ACTA is aimed at setting an international standard for tackling large-scale infringements of intellectual property rights. Critics argue that it will lead to censorship of the internet, while supporters insist the agreement will not alter existing laws.

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