The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to reject ACTA, the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The 478 votes against dwarfed the combined 39 votes in favour and the 165 abstentations held yesterday.
The trade agreement, designed to help crack down on copyright infringement, was criticised for being too vague in its proposals on how to do this. It was thought that under ACTA, ISPs could be required to act as de facto spies on their subscribers, monitoring for copyright infringing activity.
Rapporteur and UK MEP David Martin (Labour) announced, “I am very pleased that Parliament has followed my recommendation to reject ACTA” though added that safeguarding intellectual property, “raw material of the EU economy” would require alternative measures.
Some MEPs in the crowd held up black and yellow signs reading “Hello Democracy, Goodbye ACTA,” in response to anti-ACTA protests both in public and online.
ACTA may come back-ta
But ACTA isn’t totally dead in Europe yet. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht insists on seeking the opinion of the European Court of Justice on “whether [ACTA] harms any of the fundamental rights of European citizens – including freedom of speech.”
If the Court rules that ACTA does not infringe on the rights of European citizens then the European Commission could revive the plans.
Dara MacGreevy, AntiPiracy Director of the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE), representing the European video games industry said “Contrary to many of the statements made, the individual’s fundamental rights are fully respected by ACTA, and we look forward to the Court of Justice assessment in this regard.”
Alberto Paccanelli CEO and President of the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) added “Europe’s innovative manufacturing and creative industries are now looking to the other ACTA signatories to protect our rights internationally.”
The US is a notable signatory of ACTA. On Tuesday, the UK Home Office announced that it did not intend to block extradition of UK citizen Richard O’Dwyer to the US. O’Dwyer, who ran TV Shack, has never been arrested or charged with an offence under UK law but faces trial in the US under the Extradition Act 2003.
If you’re deemed guilty of filesharing in Europe, it might not matter if intellectual property owners are located outside the EU, ACTA or no ACTA.