EU Parliament rejects ACTA in 663 to 13 vote for openness

MEPs demand talks are open to public scrutiny

The EU Parliament has approved a common resolution that calls for openness over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), in a 663-to-13 vote, arguing that ACTA contradicts agreed EU laws on counterfeiting and piracy online.

In addition, EU Parliament has said it is ready to go to the Court of Justice if the European Commission (EC) does not reject ACTA rules, or indeed even give Parliament access to the draft ACTA texts.

This is a massive setback for the highly secretive ACTA, an international anti-counterfeiting framework that has been in development for over two years. ACTA, a draft of which was leaked online in February, seeks to establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement.

However, critics say ACTA would allow "US-style draconian" policies to penalise piracy, including the controversial "three strikes" rule that requires ISPs to cut off an illegal filesharing subscriber's Internet connection after two warnings.

Essentially, today's vote will mean negotiators will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a compromise to appease objections raised by EU Parliament.

Christian Engstrm, MEP for the Swedish Pirate Party, welcomed the decision: "This is just the beginning. This is a resolution by a virtually unanimous parliament, but it is not formally binding for the Commission. If they want to ignore us, they technically can. Then we will have to fight on."

The participating countries in the ACTA talks are the US, the EU, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Their next meeting will take place in New Zealand in April. The 11 negotiating parties aim to conclude the treaty by the end of this year.

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Siobhan Chapman

Computerworld UK

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