The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament have just announced that they will reject the controversial treaty called ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). “Although we unambiguously support the protection of intellectual property rights, we also champion fundamental rights and freedoms. We have serious concerns that ACTA does not strike the right balance,” announced Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader.
“Civil society has been extremely vocal in recent months in raising their legitimate concerns on the ACTA agreement which we share. There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice,” Verhofstadt noted. “Furthermore, ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way,” said Verhofstadt. “We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment.”
“A right balance between the fight against intellectual property infringements and the rights to privacy and data protection must be respected. It appears that ACTA has not been fully successful in this respect.”
In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.
The European Committee is due to vote on whether to approve ACTA in June,
“If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.”