The much-reviled copyright treaty isn't likely to pass in the European Union.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) began life as a multilateral trade agreement designed to limit the spread of pirated copyrighted material across international borders. Although drafted behind closed doors, it didn't take the international community, particularly Europe, long to catch wind of the various privacy-infringing clauses hidden in the body of the bill. Now, after careful deliberation, the European Union has taken the first step to joining its citizens in their outright rejection of the bill.
Earlier this week, the European Trade Committee, a branch of the E.U. designed to formally advise the Parliament and other branches on the legality and suitability of international trade agreements, voted against ACTA by 19 votes to 12.
While this isn't a complete rejection of the legislation - its final fate will be decided by the European Parliament in July - analysts postulate that the influence of the Trade Committee is so great that the Parliament is highly unlikely to go against its advice.
British MEP (Member of the European Parliament) David Martin led the Committee during this decision. "This was not an anti-intellectual property vote. This group believes Europe does have to protect its intellectual property but ACTA was too vague a document," he said.
"In the end it came down to vote on intellectual property or civil liberties and I'm glad that civil liberties won over," added Martin.
Peter Bradwell, a campaigner from civil liberties organization the Open Rights Group, was even more pleased. "MEPs have listened to the many, many thousands of people across Europe who have consistently demanded that this flawed treaty is kicked out," he said. "This is the fifth consecutive committee to say ACTA should be rejected. It now falls to the vote of the whole European Parliament in early July to slam the door on ACTA once and for all, and bring this sorry mess to an end."
While voices from various media industries continue to ask that the Parliament wait for an official ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union before making its decision, it remains unlikely that Europe's governing body will go against the advice of the Trade Committee. It's worth keeping in mind too that while the E.U. looks set to reject the treaty, other signatories - including the U.S. and Japan - may still move forward with it.
Image: European Union