Victory for the people! ACTA flatly rejected by the INTA Committee of the European Parliament
22 Jun 2012
In a key vote this morning, the INTA committee rejected ACTA by a clear majority (19/12). By the same majority the Committee also decided against postponing the vote until the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gives its opinion on the legality of the agreement. For everybody involved in intense advocacy efforts to convince the European Parliament to reject ACTA, this morning was an important victory.
ACTA is a fundamentally flawed agreement that disproportionately tips the balance in favour of intellectual property rights at the expense of freedom of expression and other fundamental rights. Many of its provisions are too vague and it encourages private entities to take on the role of copyright police without the required due process safeguards under international law. This is not to say that intellectual property rights (IPRs) should be left unprotected. But sound intellectual property policy is about striking the right balance between IPRs and fundamental rights.
At ARTICLE 19, we believe that waiting for the opinion of the CJEU on ACTA is not the right solution either. The CJEU is a judicial body mandated to issue legal rulings. The concerns about ACTA are not merely legal but also political. It is the European Parliament’s responsibility to make the right policy decision and reject ACTA.
With these arguments and the conviction of doing the right thing, yesterday we spent the whole day on the phone trying to talk to the MEPs in the committee. And the phone lines had no rest. A cohort of aides, assistants and advisors listened - some more patiently than others - to our views on ACTA and why we urged the MEP to vote against it.
Some cryptically said that they could not anticipate the way the MEP intended to vote. Some invited us to visit the MEP’s webpage to learn about their stance on ACTA. Others expressed their fervent support to the agreement. And in one case I found myself wrapped in a lengthy constructive argument about ACTA and freedom of expression. Some of our phone calls were unanswered, so we emailed our views.
The most interesting thing, however, was that every single person we spoke to seemed to be well informed about the debate surrounding ACTA. Most acknowledged having received many emails, phone-calls and documents calling for the agreement to be rejected. That was democracy in action and at its best. Today, by rejecting ACTA, the INTA committee has signalled that the voice of the people has been heard.
That is not the end of the process however. ACTA has yet to be voted on by the European Parliament’s plenary in July. We shouldn’t spare our efforts. After today’s victory though, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
For more on ACTA read our briefing http://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/2901/11-12-14-acta-V2.pdf
See also our joint press release together with other 40 organisations calling on the INTA committee to reject ACTA http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/3340/en/inta-committee-must-reject-acta
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