EU Parliament approves once-secret ACTA copyright treaty

The vote is 331-294, with 11 abstentions, on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

After 11 rounds of international negotiations, the final text of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has overcome its biggest hurdle yet when it was welcomed as a step in the right direction by the European Parliament, which voted 331-294, with 11 members abstaining, to approve the measure.

Although the Parliament has called for some reassurances from the European Commission, the vote means that in principle the final legal text can now be agreed to by the Commission at a meeting in Sydney from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. Under the Lisbon Treaty, Members of the European Parliament were required to give their consent to the measure and there were fears right up until the vote that they might halt the deal altogether.

The relatively high vote against represents the MEPs who were angry at being kept in the dark for much of the negotiating period. However, many MEPs were appeased when transparency improved following their complaints.

But Parliament nonetheless called on the European Commission to confirm that it will have no impact on basic freedoms and existing European Union legislation, particularly as "E.U. law is already considerably more advanced than the current international standards."

The ACTA agreement has been mired in controversy from the beginning due to secrecy imposed by the U.S. and to worries that it may not uphold E.U. data privacy rules. The deal seeks to enforce intellectual property rights and combat online piracy and illegal software.

The most controversial paragraph in the final text leaves the door open for countries to introduce the so-called three-strikes rule. This would cut Internet users off if they download copyright material as national authorities would be able to order ISPs to disclose personal information about customers.

The text has been somewhat watered down from the original wording, which said that parties "shall" provide laws to demand information from ISPs. But sources close to the negotiations said that ACTA can be seen as suggesting "what is considered best practice," which may be interpreted as encouraging countries to introduce draconian measures such as the so-called three-strikes rule.

The proposed agreement would also place sanctions against any device or software that is marketed as a means of circumventing access controls such as encryption or scrambling that are designed to prevent copying. It also requires legal measures against knowingly using such technology.

Concerned MEPs had warned they would not give the agreement their approval if they didn't have enough time to read the text. The final text of the ACTA agreement was only published by the U.S. State Department on Nov. 15.

The agreement as it stands would not require any change in E.U. legislation, but could have an impact on other parties whose laws on intellectual property are less well defined.

The countries involved in the negotiations are Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico, the U.S. and the E.U. Critics question the effectiveness of an agreement that does not include China, the source of almost 65 percent of all cases of counterfeit goods seized by E.U. customs in 2009.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentcopyrightinternetlegislationlegalspywareintellectual propertypatenttradeeuropean commissionInternet service providersEuropean Parliament

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?