Media News - Thursday, July 05, 2012
The European Parliament overwhelmingly defeated an international anti-piracy trade agreement Wednesday after concern that it would limit Internet freedom sparked street protests in cities across Europe. The vote — 39 in favor, 478 against, with 165 abstentions — appeared to deal the death blow to the European Union's participation in a treaty it helped negotiate, though other countries may still participate without the EU. Supporters had maintained that ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, was needed to standardize the different national laws that protect the rights of those who produce music, movies, pharmaceuticals, fashion goods and other products that often fall victim to piracy and intellectual property theft. EU officials said, too, that protecting European ideas was essential to the economic growth the continent so badly needs. But opponents feared the treaty would lead to censorship and snooping on the Internet activities of ordinary citizens. Alex Wilks, who directed the anti-ACTA campaign for the advocacy group Avaaz, said the agreement would have permitted private companies to spy on the activities of Internet users and would have allowed users to be disconnected without due process. Wilks said the agreement did not properly balance the rights of private citizens and those of copyright holders, whom he described as companies, though their ranks also include individual authors and musicians of modest means. Beyond the EU and 22 of its member countries, eight other countries also signed the agreement — the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea — though none has yet ratified it. The EU vote will not affect them. (AP)
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