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EU asks ECJ to review ACTA

By | Published on Thursday 23 February 2012


Global intellectual property agreement ACTA hit another hurdle yesterday when the European Commission, which signed the treaty last month, said it would ask the European Courts Of Justice to review the document and check if it contravenes any fundamental EU rights.

As previously reported, opposition to the agreement has grown in recent weeks, despite it being years in the making, and having been signed by most European countries last month, as well as by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea last October. That increasingly vocal opposition is making some of those European nations yet to actually sign up, and some who already have, call for further revisions to be made to the agreement. It may also mean that the European Parliament will vote against the treaty when it is discussed there in June.

Opponents to ACTA will likely see the EC’s decision to refer the agreement to the ECJ as vindication of their concerns. Though supporters of the treaty will also likely welcome the move, as EU commissioners actually expect the court to approve the agreement, and hope that judicial approval will help counter some of the more gloomy accusations made against ACTA with regards its affects on the general public’s internet rights.

According to The Guardian, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said he hoped an ECJ ruling on ACTA would clear the “fog of misinformation” around the treaty, adding: “This debate must be based upon facts and not upon the misinformation or rumour that has dominated social media sites and blogs in recent weeks. ACTA will not censor websites or shut them down; ACTA will not hinder freedom of the internet or freedom of speech”.

As previously reported, ACTA obliges those countries who sign it to bring their copyright and other intellectual property right systems into line with certain criteria. Supporters in Europe insist copyright systems within the EU already adhere to the agreement, so the impact will be minimal, but opponents fear the treaty will enable governments to force through unpopular anti-piracy measures, claiming they have to in order to satisfy international obligations.