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European Parliament committees vote to reject ACTA

Crucial votes go against the trade treaty
Thu May 31 2012, 12:18
ACTA took a beating today

THE OPPRESSIVE Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) faced three votes in the European Parliament today, and has lost all three of them.

First up was a vote at the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). ACTA was rejected there, despite being a place that Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net and an ACTA opponent called the "home of the copyright talibans!"

"Such a vote shows that even the most conservatives Members of the Parliament now understand that ACTA must be killed, and that current conceptions copyright cannot hold in the long run," added his colleague, Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net in a blog post.

"They will eventually come to the conclusion that it is inevitable to legalize the sharing of culture online, between individuals and not for-profit, and must be encouraged in that way."

Next ACTA limped into view at the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). Here, as with JURI, the rapporteur recommended rejection, and, again, that is the result.

Bloodied by now, ACTA then appeared in front of the Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE), where it has been been subject to analysis in human rights terms.

The European People's Party tried to derail the vote, hoping to bring in an amendment for "technical reasons". This, warned the opposition, would make it hard to follow any recommendations for rejection.

The amendment, called amendment 37, was roundly rejected and a large majority voted in favour of rejecting ACTA wholesale, 36 in favour, 1 against, and 21 abstentions.

ACTA's next vote is in front of the third world development committee DEVE, then it will find itself in perhaps what is its spiritual home, INTA, the international trade committee, in mid-June. A final vote in the European Parliament should happen in the first week of July.

Although ACTA and its supporters got their faces smacked today that does not mean that the struggle is over.

"What happened today was the first steps in a long chain that ends with the final vote in all of the European Parliament, which is the vote where ACTA ultimately lives or dies. If it is defeated on the floor of the European Parliament, then it's a permakill. Boom, headshot," said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a blog post.

The ACTA battle as a whole is far from over, though. The majorities were narrow. And the overall net liberty war, beyond ACTA, is definitely far from over. We're winning, but only because we're fighting hard to win. This is not over." µ


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