As widely expected, the hapless Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty has been rejected by the European Parliament.
European MPs wanted to push through a vote before the European Court of Justice had ruled on whether ACTA is compatible with European Treaties - and succeeded. Altogether 478 MEPs voted against ratifying the treaty, while 39 supported it – 165 MEPs didn't turn up at all.
The treaty lost its copyright liability provisions some time ago, and its rejection will hurt many SMEs and small inventors who genuinely need help in policing their trademarks and brands against fraudsters and copy-cats.
Many of the larger world economies have signed the agreement – including the USA, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and Canada – although no one has ratified it yet. There is some pressure to put it to a Congressional vote in the States and the Australian government recently recommended that ratification be deferred.
The treaty was partially designed to lower the costs of intercepting counterfeit trade - including fake drugs - across borders.
One entertainment industry attorney told El Reg privately that it had been a mistake to negotiate in private, since this stoked the anti-copyright activists' most paranoid fantasies. And these are vivid, as illustrated here.
"It does nothing for us," he told us.
And timing didn't help. After the US SOPA legislation was sunk, activists were in high spirits and took to the streets believing ACTA was SOPA re-incarnated. Even websites reliably sympathetic to the freetard cause appealed to the activists to calm down, pointing out many of the arguments against ACTA were myths.
"Repressive measures are not the right way forward," said EuroISPA president Malcolm Hutty in a statement today.
The European Publishers Council pointed out that:
“The European Parliament has totally ignored proper judicial procedure. It has given in to pressure from anti-copyright groups despite calls from thousands of companies and workers in manufacturing and creative sectors who have called for ACTA to be signed in order that their rights as creators be protected.”
Another source told El Reg:
"There was tension between the Parliament and the Council/member states because the member states negotiated the criminal sanctions chapter of ACTA, whereas a criminal sanctions directive, agreed by the Parliament several years ago, never saw the light of day as it remains blocked in the Council." ®