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Pirate Party supports day of protest over ACTA

By | Published on Tuesday 7 February 2012

The Pirate Party

The UK branch of the Pirate Party is hoping to rally British support for a day of protests around the world against the previously reported Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a global treaty which aims to harmonise certain aspects of intellectual property law in any country that signs up.

ACTA has been a long time in development, and has come in for criticism in some circles throughout its creation, mainly for the secrecy that seemed to be attached to negotiations on the treaty. The closed door nature of said negotiations was criticised in itself, with allegations that negotiators were trying to stifle public debate, while the confidential nature of talks led to wild allegations about what anti-piracy measures the treaty may contain, most of which turned out not to be true.

In fact, supporters of the treaty insist the final agreement – signed by various countries last October, and the EU and most of its member nations last month – is nowhere near as radical as opponents claim, with European officials saying that everything in the treaty is already law in the EU, and simply obligates other participating countries to bring their IP systems in line.

But, mainly in the wake of last month’s SOPA/PIPA protests in the US, opposition to ACTA is mounting after the fact, even though none of the more controversial proposals in the American bills actually feature in the global agreement.

There were protests in Poland ahead of last months EU signing, and now the Czech Republic’s government is reportedly having second thoughts about the agreement, while Slovakia – which hasn’t yet actually signed ACTA in its own right – is saying a public debate is now required, and according to The Register the collapse of government in Romania (after opposition to austerity measures) might result in new ministers there also walking away from the IP treaty.

New opposition in Europe has a date to rally to because, while the EU and many of its members have already signed the treaty, the whole thing is still to go before the European Parliament in June. And a French MEP charged with the task of reviewing the agreement was pretty damning of the way it had been constructed in a statement last month. Saturday has been earmarked for a day of global protests against the agreement, with various rallies, mainly in Europe, but also in the US and Australia, having been announced so far.

That includes protests in London, Glasgow and Nottingham, which The Pirate Party threw its backing behind yesterday. Their leader Loz Kaye said: “We saw what the combination of protest and political pressure achieved with the dropping of SOPA. But the threats to digital rights and civil liberties aren’t over. It’s vital that we send a clear message that the people of Europe don’t want ACTA”.

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