Some thoughts on ACTA post mortem
BySylvie FodorOn 4 July 2012, 478 members of the European Parliament gave a heavy blow to the creative industries in Europe.
These deputies voted against a treaty meant to coordinate IPR enforcement around the world. Sadly, they refused to wait for the decision of the European Court of Justice and voted first.
The refusal to wait for legal clarification shows that the vote was not based on legal facts but on politics, if not mob rule. On the one hand the European Parliament wanted to display political muscle towards the Commission, on the other hand the legal truth was not desirable in the context of massive manifestations and active internet lobbying. A number of MEP have actually requested that the legal procedure at the Court of Justice be halted. "It is useless to ask for a decision on a treaty which does not exist anymore" tweeted Françoise Castex, deputy S&D .
However, ACTA has already been approved by all 27 European Union member states, it has been signed by many of the EU's key trading partners, including the United States, Canada and Japan. Marocco and Mexico ratified it last week. Karel de Guch, Commissioner in charge, says that a decision of the Court of Justice would allow to work out a better ACTA, void of the alleged weaknesses.
The European Parliament's decision to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a victory for protesters who argued that the Treaty trampled on civil liberties (such as downloading free music online).
Unfortunately, ACTA's rejection will damage the fight to protect owners of intellectual property and copyright from seeing their work stolen by internet pirates. This vote shows where - beyond all lip service on the importance of IPR - political support goes. This is bad news for all creators who distribute their goods online, primarily but not only music and films. It also means less protection for makers of branded goods whose brands are regularly subjected to attacks by counterfeiters.
As a conclusion of this sad post, I would like to link to the letter of one of the 38 deputies who voted for ACTA. Phillipe Juvin adresses the tons of insulting mails, all anonymous, flooding his mailbox. Under the circumstances, voting for ACTA or expressing a positive opinion turns into an act of civil courage.
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