EU's highest court to rule on anti-piracy treaty

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EU's highest court to rule on anti-piracy treaty

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After major opposition, Brussels has referred its anti-piracy treaty to the European Court of Justice to rule if it complies with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms. Critics have said the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, will curb free access on the internet. Thousands protested across Europe earlier this month.

The EU’s trade chief Karel De Gucht told euronews ACTA will reinforce intellectual property protection.

“I’m confident that there is nothing wrong with ACTA, not at all, that it is a fine treaty, and that it will protect our intellectual property… We don’t have oil and gas, we don’t have the minerals in our soil, we can only take out of the soil what is in the soil. What we really have is our intellectual property, so we should be anxious to protect this.”

What is ACTA?

  • ACTA stands for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”
  • Objective: to set international standards to fight counterfeiting consumer goods and to defend copyright
  • initiated in 2007 by 12 states and the European Union
  • strongly criticized for being developed behind closed doors; first draft leaked in 2010
  • due to the vague formulations in the draft many critics fear strong regulation and surveillance of the internet and hence an interference in the private sphere, civil liberties and basic democratic principles without judicial control
  • ACTA has so far been signed by 34 countries, including 22 EU member states
  • Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia have not signed the agreement yet, others announced withdrawal of their signatures
  • EU Commission website: Informations on ACTA.

But even inside the European Commission, ACTAs supporters face a battle, with Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding also expressing concerns via the social networking website Twitter.

So far 22 EU member states have signed up to ACTA, though several countries, especially in Eastern Europe, and also Germany and Denmark, have not. Full EU backing is seen as vital to implement consistent copyright laws across the bloc.