ACTA IS DEAD (ish) (for now)

Michael Geist sez,

On October 23, 2007, the U.S., E.U., Canada, and a handful of other countries announced plans to the negotiate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The behind-the-scenes discussions had apparently been ongoing for several years, leading some countries to believe that a full agreement could be concluded within a year to coincide with the end of the Bush administration. Few paid much attention as the agreement itself was shrouded in secrecy. ACTA details slowly began to emerge, however, including revelations that lobby groups had been granted preferential access, the location of various meetings, and troubling details about the agreement itself.

This morning, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the agreement, effectively killing ACTA within the EU. The vote was 478 against, 39 in favour, with 165 abstentions This is a remarkable development that was virtually unthinkable even a year ago. Much credit goes to the thousands of Europeans who spoke out against ACTA and to the Members of the European Parliament who withstood enormous political pressure to vote against the deal.

The European developments have had a ripple effect, with the recent Australian parliamentary committee recommendation to delay ACTA ratification and the mounting opposition around the world. ACTA is not yet dead - it may still eke out the necessary six ratifications in a year or two for it to take effect - but it is badly damaged and will seemingly never achieve the goals of its supporters as a model for other countries to adopt and to emerge as a new global standard for IP enforcement. That said, ACTA supporters will not take today's decision as the final verdict. In the coming weeks and months, we can expect new efforts to revive the agreement within Europe and to find alternative means to implement its provisions. That suggests the fight will continue, but for today, it is worth celebrating how the seemingly impossible - stopping a one-sided, secretly negotiated global IP agreement - became possible.

The European Parliament Rejects ACTA: The Impossible Becomes Possible


  1. I’m horribly shamed by NZs part in this – although not surprised given our Government’s willingness to bend over for America (Kim dotcom for example, although our courts are doing their best to remove the rather unusual political involvment from this case).

    We need to continue to shine a light on the 39 members who voted in favour of this and ask their motives/rational etc. A ‘please explain’. 

    1. I see where you’re coming from, but unanimous votes are usually a sign of something broken somewhere in the democratic process. You get unanimous voting in China and in the Senate for the Patriot Act.

      Take note of who supported ACTA and make sure you do not vote for them, but subjecting an unsuccessfully dissenting minority to punitive scrutiny just because they voted in a way we do not like goes somewhere I would rather not go.

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