ACTA, the anti-piracy treaty many felt was a treat to our individual rights, has been shut down by the European Parliament, much to the dismay of those who lobbied endlessly in favor of the agreement. When all was said and done, 478 MEPs voted against the treaty, while 39 voted in favor of it. 139 individuals abstained from casting their allegiance in one direction or the other. Efforts were previously made to postpone the voting due to ongoing investigations into ACTA by the European Court of Justice.
As the vote was going down, many in the audience held up signs and banners which read, “Hello democracy, goodbye Acta”. UK’s Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye was elated, as well, stating, “The European Parliament vote is a triumph of democracy over special interests and shady back-room deals.”
Although officials say that the agreement was nothing more than an attempt to get a handle on the internet piracy, many believe that it’s a serious threat to our freedom. Few details about ACTA are known, though the most damning of language suggests that criminal penalties will be brought against both intellectual property pirates and individuals who are found “aiding and abetting” such activity. Despite being negotiated as a trade agreement, many feel that it’s simply legislation in disguise. Pharmaceutical companies, movies studios, and record labels, as you can imagine, were quite anxious to see this thing pass.
Wednesday’s vote is considered to be a huge win for those who feel that large, money-saturated corporations currently have too much power over governments and their citizens. However, there is still a chance that the United States and a handful of small nations could, in theory, get the treaty to pass. All they need are six of ten negotiating countries to ratify the treaty for it to go into effect. However, without the support of the European Parliament, many feel that ACTA is as good as dead.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, meanwhile, has stated that the fight against piracy will continue in spite of the vote. “Today’s rejection does not change the fact that the European Commission has committed itself to seeking answers to the questions raised by the European public,” he explained. “The European Commission will continue to seek the legal opinion of the European Court of Justice on whether this agreement harms any of the fundamental rights of European citizens – including freedom of speech.”