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Controversial anti-piracy pact rejected by key European parliament committee

The international trade committee has said that the European Parliament should not ratify ACTA next month.

Activists protest against ACTA in Belgrade in February 2012.
Activists protest against ACTA in Belgrade in February 2012.
Image: Darko Vojinovic/AP/Press Association Images

A CONTROVERSIAL GLOBAL pact to battle counterfeiting and online piracy has been dealt a new setback after a key European Parliament panel rejected the deal.

The international trade committee voted 19-12 against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), recommending that the full European Parliament should bury the treaty next month, and calling the document ‘vague’.

ACTA promises a major crackdown on the trade of counterfeit goods and digital copyright infringement. It’s been criticised for its potential impact on privacy and freedom of expression.

Protests have taken place in cities across Europe, including Dublin and Cork

Ireland and 21 other member states, as well as the US and Japan have signed the treaty, but it has yet to be ratified by the European Parliament.

In May three key committees voted against ACTA and the EU’s chief policymaker for digital affairs admitted that it was unlikely to come into force. Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said that “we need to find solutions to make the internet a place of freedom, openness and innovation fit for all citizens”.

Although ACTA is primarily aimed at stopping the trade of counterfeited physical goods, it contains provisions which demand that participating countries offer equal protection and enforcement procedures against digital copyright infringement.

Specifically signatories would allow Internet Service Providers to disclose a user’s information to a copyright holder, where the latter has a sufficient claim that the user is breaching their copyright.

- Additional reporting by AFP

EU digital affairs chief admits controversial ACTA treaty likely to fail>

Internet freedom ‘must be protected’, TD tells Council of Europe>

EU agrees on referral of ACTA to European Court of Justice>

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Emer McLysaght

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