The European parliament may have effectively killed or at best rendered impotent a major anti-counterfeiting and digital piracy treaty after legislators overwhelmingly voted down the agreement on Wednesday.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was initially signed last October by eight countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States. The full text of the agreement essentially stressed the negative impact of counterfeiting and piracy of goods on the global economy and established steps for curbing IP theft. Further, the agreement noted that “effective enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to sustaining economic growth across all industries and globally.”
It would therefore seem like a good agreement to enforce, right? Not exactly. Some wordings in the agreement, combined with the fact it was negotiated privately by government officials and seemed to target digital freedom, rubbed many people the wrong way and mobilized EU legislators against it. Opponents fanned anger against it on the belief that the ACTA would curb Internet freedom.
The EU vote wasn't even close. More than half of the legislators voted against the treaty. Of the 478 parliamentarians, 39 agreed to uphold the treaty, 146 abstained, and the remaining 293 voted to reject the agreement. The crushing blow means the treaty is unlikely to go ahead. Although it can be implemented by the current signatories, the absence of 27 European nations would turn it into a North America- and Pacific states-only agreement, leaving out a chunk of the globe and making enforcement difficult.