ACTA Approval Postponed For Now: Does the Treaty Violate EU Rights?

Last week, the European Union suspended attempts to ratify the international anti-counterfeiting treaty ACTA and asked Europe’s high court to see if the controversial proposal violates any fundamental EU rights.  Those who drafted ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, say that it is necessary to “harmonize international standards to protect the rights” of those who create not only music and movies, but also a number of other protects that are frequent victims of piracy and intellectual property theft, such as pharmaceuticals and fashion goods. But opponents fear that ACTA could lead to censorship and a loss of privacy rights, which were similar fears of many in the US who rallied against two anti-piracy bills, SOPA and PIPA, that have been stopped earlier this year.

Under ACTA, internet providers would have to cooperate with governments to crack down on online piracy, via measures such as cutting off internet access for those who have illegally downloaded music or other files.

The European council had unanimously approved ACTA last December and EU and the 22 EU member states signed the treaty on January 26 in Tokyo, but all 27 member countries of the EU must sign the treaty if the EU is to be a formal member of it. Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands are now opposed to ACTA. Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US have signed ACTA; Mexico and Switzerland have not yet signed but have participated in negotiations about the treaty.

Opposition to ACTA has picked up in the past few weeks in Europe, with thousands protesting across eastern Europe and in Germany, France and Ireland; 4,000 protested in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, last Saturday. Among those who have expressed concerns about how ACTA could curtail basic freedoms are internet lobbyists and health campaigners, who content that “overly strict controls of copyright would exclude people from the internet and prevent developing countries from accessing generic medicines.”

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said that a decision from the European court of justice would clarify what he said is the “fog of misinformation” that has arisen about ACTA on “social media sites and blogs.” De Gucht claims that ACTA will not “censor websites or shut them down” and that it will “not hinder freedom of the internet or freedom of speech” but rather help to protect the intellectual property that is “Europe’s raw material.”

Opponents, however, do not think court approval will resolve the controversy. As Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of the internet advocacy group La Quadrature du Net, said to the Guardian, “No legal debate can fix ACTA or give it a legitimacy that by design it cannot have.”

Related Care2 Coverage

Scientists Fight For Open Access For Research

Act on ACTA: The Internet War is Not Over

SOPA and PIPA Stopped — Next, the OPEN ACT


Photo of a protest in Dortmund on February 25, 2012, by Rainer Klute


colleen p.
colleen p5 years ago

ah, and here i wanted to some what recreate retired stuffed animals

KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Todd D.
TJ D5 years ago

i completely and totally agree with Theo C.

Marianna B M.


Joan Mcallister
5 years ago

I think people should be paid for their work be it in music, movies etc. I hope the EU eventually gets it act together and signs this agreement, piracy and intellectual property theft is wrong.

Theo C.
Theo C5 years ago

Fantasy Records suing John Fogerty to try to prevent him from performing his own songs, CBS profiting for decades off of Bessie Smith, to whom they never paid a penny of royalties, ever. Her first single grossed three-quarters of a million dollars. Bessie Smith's lifetime take for every recording she ever made? 30 thousand dollars. These stories define the way copyright law has traditionally worked. The powerful get copyright, then squeeze profits from it.
When I see copyright protecting the artist rather than the corporation, serving the public rather than the interests of the powerful, I will have more faith in it.

John H.
John H5 years ago

It goes without any surprise that the New Zealand Government has signed the covenant, as they appear to so then have difficulty complying with basic rights and enforcing universal conventions,
how ever the latest big news in NZ is about Mr Dotcom who was hosting uploads and who has been indicted by a US grand Jury and is now facing an extradition hearing for alleged breaches of copy write laws? the following clip from the internet may be of interest.

AUCKLAND - Founder of file sharing website Kim Dotcom alias Kim Schmitz, who has been jailed here since January 20 at the request of the US, has been granted bail by a New Zealand court, which has scheduled the extradition hearing in August.

The US has 45 days from the date of arrest to file a formal extradition request. Dotcom was charged with copyright violations, wire-frauds, racketeering and money laundering in a US court in Alexandria, Virginia, on February 17.

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago

Lydia P. has said it well!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

I don't understand why people do not feel people's work should not be protected?

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

to protect rights the laws need to protect all rights. People have been protecting their rights for a long time. Nothing being done on the internet is any different then off the internet. Stealing something is wrong on or off the net. We all have laws to stop theft. Do not in any way allow any censorship on the net.