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Important victories on ACTA! Moving on to Final Steps

Brussels, May 31st 2012 - Votes were cast in three of the four parliamentary committees preparing the EU Parliament's final decision on ACTA. Citizens' concerns, as well as Internet innovators & start-ups' interests have been upheld in "Civil Liberties" (LIBE) and the "Industry" (ITRE) committees. Even the "Legal affairs" (JURI) committee, usually very conservative and keen to support repression on copyright issues, rejected Marielle Gallo's pro-ACTA opinion.
UPDATE [04/06]: Development (DEVE) committee also rejected ACTA.
Citizens should rejoice but keep up the pressure for the upcoming steps, up until the final vote scheduled for early July. A massive rejection of ACTA would create a political symbol of global scale.

Development committee rejects ACTA: Repression not the right tool for emerging economies

Within the "Development" (DEVE) committee, the adoption of the pro-ACTA report by Jan Zahradil amended with a recommendation to the Parliament to reject ACTA is a very good news. This means that 4 out of 4 committees adopted opinions calling for the rejection of ACTA by the whole Parliament.

"This vote means that exporting EU failed policies in the field of copyright, and relentlessly pushing for more repressive measures is not a valid option for EU's foreign and development policies. Developing countries whose economies are often based on the sharing of knowledge rather on its control greatly suffer from the kind of expansive copyright and patent regimes found in ACTA. The free flow of information, culture, knowledge and vital resources such as generic medicines is more important for development than the business interests of a few western industries." declares Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the organization La Quadrature du Net.

Industry Committee of the European Parliament crushes ACTA

The Industry Committee of the European Parliament (ITRE) voted with a majority in favour of Amelia Andersdotter's (Greens, SE) report, despite some ALDE Members attempts (contrary to their group position!) to help the pro-ACTA EPP to neutralize the final vote recommendation against ACTA. It is nevertheless an unequivocal rejection of ACTA in the name of free competition and innovation online, and against the copyright industry's attempt at controlling the Internet.

"This vote should resonate as a wake-up call for legislators in EU and beyond: Attempts to enforce an obsolete vision of copyright can only hurt a free Internet, and the interests of the innovative actors who are building the foundations of tomorrow's economies. This vote is an invitation to reform copyright so as to take into account new practices and technologies, and lift the burden that it creates for innovative online services." declares Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the organization La Quadrature du Net.

ACTA: A Blow to the Copyright Fundamentalism in Legal Affairs committee

The extremely conservative Legal Affairs committee of the European Parliament (JURI), which has traditionally voted in favour of tougher repression of an old copyright regime rejected as a whole the proposal of Marielle Gallo (EPP, France) to include in the lead "International trade" committee's (INTA) final report a pro-ACTA opinion.

"Such a vote shows that even the most conservatives Members of the Parliament now understand that ACTA must be rejected, and that the current conceptions of copyright cannot hold in the long run. They will eventually come to the conclusion that it is inevitable to legalize the sharing of culture online, between individuals and not for-profit." said Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of the citizen organization.

Total Victory for Citizens' Rights in Civil Liberties Committee

The Civil Liberties committee (LIBE) voted by an overwhelming majority the excellent report by rapporteur's Dimitrios Droutsas (S&D, Greece). Not only does the adopted report outline most of the harms that ACTA would do to fundamental freedoms online, but it is also complemented by the adoption of an amendment recommending to the lead committee and the Parliament as a whole to further reject the agreement during the upcoming plenary vote.

"The LIBE vote shows that civil society was right from the start to be outraged at the impact ACTA would have on freedom of communication and privacy, and that its voice has been heard. What is more, the report demonstrates a clear understanding of the need to profoundly reshape the balance between copyright and access to culture. Together we can destroy ACTA and create a political symbol of global scale that will have an impact on the future of Internet-related and copyright policies. While working to reject ACTA forever, we must pave the way for a post-ACTA world where copyright will finally respect our freedoms online." concludes Zimmermann.

The attempt by some in the ALDE, against their group position, to help the conservatives to neutralize the ITRE report (vote on recommendation, paragraph 6 against amendments 39, 40 and 41) failed by a very short majority. It shows, beyond the lack of coherence of the ALDE group, that there remains a risk of pro-ACTA manoeuvres in INTA or in the plenary votes.

Citizens must therefore pursue the effort until ACTA is effectively rejected, during the upcoming vote of the final report in the main committee (INTA) around June the 20th, and during the final plenary vote in early July. Mobilized, we will win! <3

Excerpt of the LIBE report

The culture of file-sharing, enabled by the remarkable technological advance of the last decades, certainly poses direct challenges to the way we have dealt with compensation of artists and proper enforcement of intellectual rights for the past decades. Our task, as policymakers, is to overcome this challenge by striking an acceptable balance between the possibilities that technology unravels and the continuation of artistic creation, which is an emblematic token of Europe’s place in the world.
We are therefore, at a defining moment of this debate, an exciting juncture of change. In this sense, your Rapporteur believes that ACTA comes at a very premature stage and a possible adoption of the Treaty would essentially freeze the possibility of having a public deliberation that is worthy of our democratic heritage.
(...)
In light of all of the above and without prejudice to CJEU's assessment on the matter, but taking into consideration EP's role in the protection and promotion of fundamental rights, concludes that the proposed ACTA to which we have been asked to give consent is incompatible with the rights enshrined in the Charter [of Fundamental Rights] and calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to recommend that Parliament declines to consent to the conclusion of ACTA.

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