Legal Top Stories

Dutch parliament opposes ACTA

By | Published on Thursday 31 May 2012

European Union

The Dutch parliament earlier this week told the country’s government not to sign the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, the global treaty that aims to harmonise some intellectual property laws in countries around the world.

As previously reported, the long-in-development treaty was criticised in some quarters while it was being negotiated, though widespread opposition has only come since the first countries signed up to the agreement late last year. The European Union and 22 EU countries, including the UK, then signed the treaty at the start of this year, although some of those countries (though not the UK) have subsequently said they are reviewing their support of the agreement, and the European Parliament and European Courts Of Justice are both still to consider it too.

The Netherlands were one of the EU countries not to sign ACTA in January, though the government there did intend to give the agreement its backing eventually. However, following public protests about the agreement, politicians there have now come out against the IP treaty. The Dutch government says it is holding off making a decision one way or another until the ECJ has ruled on whether any provisions in the agreement violate any fundamental EU rights.

As previously reported, supporters of ACTA insist it is essential for ensuring the survival of copyright and trademark based industries, and that in Europe all the provisions in the agreement are already part of European law, so it won’t actually result in any new intellectual property rules. But opponents criticise the way much of the agreement was negotiated in secrecy, and say that some of the treaty is worded ambiguously, and might enable nations signed up toit to introduce, via the back door, draconian new IP laws that hinder people’s internet freedom rights.

The Dutch Pirate Party welcomed their parliaments new found opposition to ACTA, though noted that most political parties in the country previously supported the agreement, and accused politicians of changing their stance now because of upcoming elections, aware of public opposition to the treaty.