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UPDATE Europe REJECTS Controversial ACTA Internet Copyright Treaty

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 (12:01 pm) - Score 376
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The European Parliament (EP) has officially voted to reject (478 in favour – 39 against – 165 abstentions) the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a treaty that threatened to toughen international copyright enforcement standards and make broadband ISPs more liable for the content they deliver; but will something similar replace it?

The international treaty, which for all intents and purposes is now dead in the water, is actually less of a problem for UK internet users, where equally controversial laws, such as the 2010 Digital Economy Act (e.g. Ofcoms new ISP piracy code), are frequently considered to be far more advanced.

But ACTA could still have provided a foundation for turning ISPs into a form of internet police force, which few would be equipped to handle. At the same time its rejection, which flowed on from protests and concern surrounding “the potential threats to civil liberties” of its worringly ambiguous clauses (ACTA Rapporteur, David Martin MEP), echoes similar fears with the UK’s DEAct.

Suffice to say that we’ve come a long way from November 2010, when the European Parliament initially described ACTA’s final text as a “step in the right direction” (here). Over a year after that the EU and UK joined with Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States in signing the treaty (here). How the tables have turned.

Parliament’s ACTA Rapporteur (Investigator), David Martin (S&D, UK), said:

My strong recommendation is that we reject the ACTA treaty. This time the devil is in the lack of detail. A vague text is dangerous and we cannot guarantee that civil liberties will be protected.”

Jérémie Zimmermann, Spokesperson for Citizen Rights Group La Quadrature du Net, said:

Beyond ACTA, we must stop this repressive trend which keeps imposing measures that harm the Internet and fundamental freedoms. Citizens must demand a reform of copyright which will foster online cultural practices such as sharing and remixing, instead of endlessly repressing them. The ACTA victory must be the beginning of a new era, in which policy-makers put freedoms and the open Internet –our common good– ahead of private interests.”

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), said:

This is a tremendous victory for the movement, for democracy and for every European citizen that has demanded that their rights be respected.

ACTA must be abandoned. The Commission must drop its calls to try again.

ORG would like to thank the thousands of activists from the Uk that helped persuade MPs to stand up for democracy.”

Europe’s inability to implement ACTA is a significant blow that has devalued the agreement to a terminal level, yet it’s unlikely to be the end. David Martin MEP has already called on the European Commission (EC) to “come forward with new proposals for protecting intellectual property” (here). At an extreme the EC could even re-table it before the EP but that’s unlikely to hold much water unless significant changes are made first.

A similar push is also beginning to take shape within the G8 and G20 countries, albeit mostly focused on the supply of drugs and related medical issues. The principal idea here appears to be that if you strip out the most contention elements, which can be pushed through individually and at a more local level (e.g. the UK DEAct), then the rest should pass without too much difficulty. It might take longer but the end result could be the same or worse than ACTA’s original design.

UPDATE 1:37pm

The EuroISPA and its members have also welcomed the European Parliament’s decision and its call for a more balanced approach in the protection of the fundamental rights at stake when the EU negotiates international treaties.

Malcolm Hutty, President of EuroISPA, said:

EuroISPA believes any international agreement should be negotiated openly, involving all the different stakeholders with the aim of promoting the legal certainties needed by the European Internet industry to develop and compete internationally.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. Avatar Timeless

    some reasonably good news l guess, but the above seems to assume we “the public” can actually do something about the stupid laws being brought in to police the internet. both the DeAct and the snoopers charger are completely stupid. all they achieve is worry that they will pick at any little thing and youll end up out of pocket or in prison.. these laws were designed to keep tabs on us and l cannot see them in all honesty not being part of the same original plan.

    regardless, no matter how l look at it.. l cannot see our current government actually listening to anything we say.. after all after seeing how they treat the bankers who caused the current economic crisis and how they treat those who have health issues and those who stand up for them.. l cannot see them listening to any of our concerns..

  2. Avatar cyclope

    Government listen to the people and give them what they really want? not a chance unless they think it will help them stay in power, even though “THEY WORK FOR US” But in reality that gets quickly forgotten once they are elected,Some demo’s en mass may get their attention as well as complaining to your local MP
    It could also do with more bad press in the media, but they are clueless about the interwebz and copyright legislation, in particular the BBC who think that copyright infringement is illegal is the same sense as it being a crime when it is only a summary (civil)offence ,currently You only have to look on http://torrentfreak.com/ to see just who are driving this, the PORN industry how can any of their so called works be copyrighted, the actors actresses are not the ones complaining, about time courts and judges stopped this pandering to them and told them to go and f +++ themselves dry

  3. Avatar cyclope

    By the way the snooping charter is associated with copyright as the government wants to control both, as it is in the interests of the media companies how many top mp’s are in their pockets ?
    I read something over 2yrs ago about governments wanting control of the internet, censorship, stamping out file sharing, so it will be able to use it as a tool, and also about it being used as a media platform for TV and film companies ,where they charge for access, but this is all we mere mortals will be able to use it for, that’s what they secretly want according to the text that i read , so a dark day could be looming for the internet as we know it

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