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article imageThe International Trade Committee of EU Parliament rejects ACTA

By Anne Sewell     Jun 21, 2012 in Internet
Brussels - The INTA committee rejected the controversial legislation by 19 votes to 12 with no abstentions, and is the fourth and final committee to deliver its report on ACTA.
This rejection will most likely affect the European Parliament's vote in early July and will most probably be a "nail in the coffin" of the draconian treaty.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has been in development since 2007 and is aimed at protecting copyright in many industries from software engineering to agriculture. The purpose of the international treaty has been establishing international standards for intellectual property rights and creating a global framework for targeting counterfeit goods on the Internet.
However, critics say that national governments would need to make a draconian attack on online privacy in order to implement the provisions of the treaty in their countries. Worries exist that generic medicines would no longer be available to third world countries, due to ACTA.
In February this year, attempts to ratify ACTA were suspended due to mass protests from Internet users and human rights activists alike. As reported on Digital Journal, thousands protested all across Europe over the power that ACTA would give to global corporations.
The original rapporteur for ACTA, Kader Arif, resigned in February, saying, "I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement. As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens' legitimate demands."
Arif was replaced as rapporteur by Minister of the European Parliament (MEP) David Martin.
At the end of May, Digital Journal reported that the EU Parliament was against ACTA.
After today's vote, a member of the INTA committee, MEP Marietje Schaake, is satisfied with their vote on the "undesirable treaty". Schaake has opposed ACTA from the start and says, “With this vote my committee has given an important advice to the plenary vote in two weeks. The EU should reject ACTA.”
“ACTA contains some troublesome provisions for policy areas such as internet freedom and access to medicines. By regulating several policy areas in one document, ACTA enforces laws in an undesirable and dangerous way,” she adds.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green politician in the committee, said, "This vote is the penultimate nail in ACTA's coffin."
UK MEP David Martin, the rapporteur on the treaty, says the proposed act leaves “many questions unanswered." This includes the role of Internet service providers (ISPs) in policing the Internet. Many on the committee agreed that the sanctions for breaches of copyright were "disproportionate", he said.
"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," he added.
Ed Geraghty, foreign policy spokesperson for the U.K. Pirate Party 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 response of the EU committees show that we have been right all along. Today's votes by the International Trade committee support that. We will continue to fight against ACTA and any similar legislation, whether at the national or international level."
Jeremie Zimmerman, co-founder and spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net, said, “The way is now paved for a quick and total rejection of ACTA by the European Parliament! With a political symbol of such a global scale, the way will be open for copyright to be reformed in a positive way, in order to encourage our cultural practices instead of blindly repressing them.”
However, not everyone was in agreement over the rejection of ACTA. Jeffrey Hardy, who is director of the International Chamber of Commerce's anti-counterfeiting lobby said, "If Parliament should reject ACTA, it will send a negative signal to Europe's trading partners and to investors around the globe, especially since much of the debate to date has been fueled by unfounded rumor and misinformation."
"ACTA will not curtail fundamental rights... and will not criminalize file-sharing," he added.
Jeremie Zimmerman said, "Destroying ACTA would give us some breathing space by creating a political symbol of global importance: the Internet, in all its diversity, winning a global political battle against some of the most powerful industries and governments."
The video above is an EU Parliament forum discussion on the pros and cons of ACTA.
More about Acta, international trade committee, inta, Eu, Parliament
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