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European Parliament Rejects Controversial Anti-Piracy Agreement

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, July 4 2012

MEPs holding signs against ACTA. Photo: © European Union 2012 - European Parliament

Earlier today, the European Parliament rejected a controversial intellectual property framework, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, by a tally of 478 votes to 39 with 165 abstentions.

The agreement would have allowed European Union member states to join an intellectual property and anti-piracy regime that sets strict rules for how to handle anything from the downloading of copyrighted material to the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The U.S. has already signed, and the Obama administration says it does not need the Senate's approval to ratify the agreement. That said, some in the Senate, naturally, disagree.

The vote in Parliament concludes an official EU process that picked up speed in January, when 22 of 27 member countries signed the agreement. That set the stage for a parliamentary process in which five parliamentary committees rejected the agreement one after the other amid demonstrations and ongoing advocacy against ACTA coming from the throughout Europe.

Back in April, the rapporteur for ACTA, British MEP David Martin, recommended the rejection of the treaty. He also declared that he had been receiving 500 anti-ACTA emails a day since the protests began.

Before the vote, the right-leaning European People's Party (EPP) asked to postpone action in Parliament until the European Court of Justice issued a ruling, not expected for at least a year on whether ACTA was compatible with the EU's fundamental rights. That move was rejected.

108 out of 165 abstentions came from EPP's MEPs.