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Anti-ACTA activists hand MEPs massive petition

Anti-ACTA activists hand MEPs massive petition
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Nearly 2.5 million people would like to see the back of ACTA was the message delivered in Brussels, as activists handed in a huge petition to MEPs calling for an end to the anti-piracy agreement. The signed plea is likely to pile more pressure on ACTA following its referral last week to the European Court of Justice.

Jérémie Zimmermann from La Quadrature du Net, an interest group opposed to Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, said: “ACTA encourages firms such as internet service providers, search engines, video platforms, etc. to police their networks and take punitive measures against their users knowing full well this will have an impact on core freedoms.’‘

While supporters of ACTA insist it is needed to protect copyright, they also believe people should not be prosecuted for downloading movies and music.

“I think ACTA, or something like ACTA, is necessary to defend our copyright holders and intellectual property holders but not at the price of criminalising ordinary citizens for simply downloading music or films or whatever from the internet. So I do not want any infringement on their civil liberties to do such things,” Social Democrat MEP, David Martin said.

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.

The petition to the European Parliament is just the latest move against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which is aimed at protecting intellectual property. Earlier this month, thousands of protesters across Europe took to the streets to oppose the international treaty.

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