The European Parliament has overwhelmingly rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
Only 39 votes were received in favour of adopting the agreement, with 478 votes against the deal and 165 abstentions.
The parliamentary rejection of the treaty was expected after the European Parliament’s trade committee recommended against ratifying ACTA.
The vote means ACTA cannot be introduced in the European Union or any of its member states.
"The decision of the European Parliament has been hailed as a victory for open, democratic governance and a rejection of secretive, backroom treaty-making," Matthew Rimmer, associate professor at the Australian National University, told Computerworld Australia.
"The rejection of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by the European Parliament was sound, given the broad and sweeping nature of the treaty and its substantive impact upon the digital economy, human rights and access to medicines."
Outside of the European Union, eight countries are currently considering ratifying ACTA: Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.
Closer to home, ACTA recently received a setback in Australia after a parliamentary report recommended Australia not ratify the treaty until the Federal Government had properly assessed the agreement’s economic and social costs and benefits.
ACTA has been a controversial agreement, with widespread protests and criticism around the world, and aims to combat copyright and IP issues on an international level, particularly when it comes to enforcing breaches, and not only covers the digital environment, but also targets counterfeit goods and generic medicines.
The Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPPA/TPP) is another international trade agreement currently undergoing negotiations, with similar criticism and protests against the agreement as those against ACTA.
FAQ: What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA/TPP)?
The TPPA negotiations currently include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. Mexico and Canada were recently admitted to the negotiating table.
While ACTA and the TPPA are being debated on the international stage, copyright is also undergoing debate on the domestic front in Australia, with an Australian Law Reform Commission currently conducting an inquiry examining existing exceptions and statutory licences in the Copyright Act to determine whether they have kept pace with the digital environment or whether further exceptions should be introduced.
ISPs, rights holders and consumer groups are also conducting talks, facilitated by the attorney-general, in closed-door talks about who should police copyright infringement and who should pay for it.
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