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June 21, 2012

ACTA facing final rejection following latest EU vote

European Parliament's highly influential trade committee hammers final nail in controversial anti-piracy bill

By Steve Evans

MEPs have voted to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by 19 votes to 12, hammering another nail in the coffin of the highly controversial anti-piracy legislation.

The vote by the European Parliament’s trade committee is seen as important as the body will influence how the rest of parliament votes. That is scheduled to take place at the start of July and if parliament votes against it the bill will be officially rejected.

The bill aims to tighten rules around copyright protection measures by standardising the rules and regulations on it. Its supporters say it will help protect EU IP across the world but critics say it will force ISPs to hand over details of individuals suspected of breaching copyright laws.

UK MEP David Martin, one of the harshest critics of the proposed law, welcomed the rejection.

"This was not an anti-intellectual property vote. This group believes Europe does have to protect its intellectual property but ACTA was too vague a document," said Martin. He added that it left many questions unanswered, such as what constitutes commercial usage and whether proposed penalties were too harsh.

"In the end it came down to vote on intellectual property or civil liberties and I’m glad that civil liberties won over," he added, according to the BBC.

"MEPs have listened to the many, many thousands of people across Europe who have consistently demanded that this flawed treaty is kicked out," added Peter Bradwell of the campaign group Open Rights Group.

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"This is the fifth consecutive committee to say ACTA should be rejected. It now falls to the vote of the whole European Parliament in early July to slam the door on ACTA once and for all, and bring this sorry mess to an end," he added.

Ed Geraghty, foreign policy spokesperson for the Pirate Party UK, said: "Our objections to ACTA have been consistent. This treaty was discussed in secret and it diminishes privacy in order to protect outdated business models. It harms developing countries and unfairly favours the big players. It’s neither in our interests nor your interests; it’s not for your benefit, it’s not good for humanity.

"Our opponents have attempted to portray us all as extreme or ill-informed. But the responses of the EU committees show that we have been right all along. Today’s votes by the International Trade committee support that," he said.

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