back to article Euro Parliament kills ACTA treaty before court can look at it

As widely expected, the hapless Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty has been rejected by the European Parliament. European MPs wanted to push through a vote before the European Court of Justice had ruled on whether ACTA is compatible with European Treaties - and succeeded. Altogether 478 MEPs voted against …


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  1. Jeebus

    Brilliant news. Well done everyone who rallied against this and the other backdoor control laws.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      "backdoor control laws"

      That is the key point: the secrecy of negotiation.

      The fact that some very controversial proposals were included then dropped from ACTA (but not Japan's own laws?) shows the attitude of some aspects of those pushing this forward. I hope, but don't really expect, that in future the revision of patent, copyright and trademark laws are done in the open and NOT simply to maximise large company profits.

      This applies obviously to the heinous business of DRM and so on being pushed by the content industries, but equally to the land-grab of copyright by the likes of Google, etc, against small players. The law should be fair to all parties.

    2. LarsG

      For once, probably the one and only time in my lifetime the EU courts have actually made a good considered decision.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Second time

        First was over the stink raised when Phorm and BT started intercepting subcriber's browsing just to feed 'em ads. Without telling anyone.

      2. aBloke FromEarth

        Yeah, it was particularly crappy when they capped phone & data roaming charges: just when I was enjoying spending €1 a minute to answer calls.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        It's not the court...

        ... .it's the European Parliament. But from your statement I assume you also think that the caps on mobile phone roaming charges were also a bad idea?

        1. I think so I am?

          Re: It's not the court...

          What does a sarcastic comment x another sarcastic comment = ?

      4. Chris Thomas Alpha

        Re: "backdoor control laws"

        the idea of dropping parts of the ACTA treaty in order to make it more paletable has another name by military terms, it's called "forming a beachhead"

        the idea is that you pass enough of the treaty to get accepted and then use itself to push through the other parts which were previously rejected.

        so because we know this, we have to refuse to accept any of it, because any small piece we allow to exist, will just be used to drag the parts we disagree with through.

        just look at the "european economic community": we accepted to be part of it and then it was used a vehicle to drag the parts we didnt agree to.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Will you PLEASE stop mixing up copyright and trademarks?

    They are entirely different and require very different measures to enforce them.

    Many people that rail against this lunatic enforcement of copyright have a measure of sympathy with the enforcement of trademarks.

    The morality and practicalities surrounding these issues are very different.

    1. irish donkey

      Never let the truth get in the way of making money

      And this law was all about making money. Nothing to do with trade mark or peoples jobs or dying industries. Governments must allow us to charge what ever we want for the crap we produce… while we continue to avoid tax!

    2. DJV Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      What he (above) said!

  3. pip25

    I'm glad ACTA is dead

    While it's possible that some of its parts might have been beneficial, the way the trade agreement was negotiated is simply not something that can be allowed to become the norm. Hopefully this will send a message.

  4. Zombie Womble

    Happy 4th of July America, how do you like the present?

    1. sgtrock
      Thumb Up

      Thank you!

      We loved it! :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better legislation to appear

    ACTA was poorly written. Better legislation shall appear. Copyrights will be protected. Pirates will be prosecuted.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Better legislation to appear

      ACTA was not poorly written. It was carefully crafted to hold as many flaws as possible that could be exploited later. They didn't need secrecy to smuggle in controversial policies, they needed it to preserve those built in exploits from detection and correction.

      Presumably they thought that it wouldn't matter when they were exposed to late to correct, no-one would back out of signing. They got really unlucky with SOPA, though arguably there would still have been enough protest to stop this rights grab without a public primed by SOPA.

      1. SleepyJohn
        Big Brother

        Re: Better legislation to appear

        Here, it seems to me, is the crux of the whole thing. The idea that the massed ranks of expert lawyers working for rich global corporations that want to be richer, and powerful governments that want to be more powerful, would 'poorly write' such an important piece of protectionist legislation is frankly ludicrous.

        And as the days are long gone when an ordinary peasant can look at a law and understand what it says, it has to come down to trust. We must ask ourselves: "Never mind what it purports to say, do we trust those who wrote it?" The clear answer in this case was: "NO."

        And the MEPs listened to the peasants because they know their jobs depend on it. The Commissioners, on the other hand, whose jobs don't depend on any rapport with the people however theoretically and convolutedly they may be 'elected', simply treat the peasants like dirt. Their bid to control the internet and increase the profits of big corporations at the expense of the struggling proles will not go away, whatever the percentage of this vote.

        Either the arrogant Commission will, as another said, keep ramming it down the throats of the MEPs until they give in, or the salient features will resurface carefully hidden in a complex piece of legislation about the precise colour of EU-approved lamp-posts erected within 7.654 metres of EU-approved suburban gardens. (Notwithstanding all that has gone before ...)

        Sadly for the massed ranks of the people, that is how the EU works; and that is why we must constantly rail against any legislation emanating from those we do not trust, even if we haven't the foggiest idea what it actually means. It is the absolute responsibility of those in power to earn our trust; they have no right to demand it. And the European Commission, executive arm of the EU, has a long, long way to go in that respect.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Better legislation to appear

          Well said sleepyjohn. Particularly this: "the days are long gone when an ordinary peasant can look at a law and understand what it says"

          Laws are written for lawyers by lawyers (one of the freaking unbelievably awful things in democracy as I see it is the hugely disproportionate amount of lawyers in parliaments), and are full of little phrases that to a layman seem to be inserted randomly or without any cause but to them is saying "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more". I am always suspicious when a law is written as yaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayaddayadda........ and some expert comes out and says "oh actually, this law is very simple, it really means abc". So if it really means abc, why isn't it written abc? The purported reason for overly huge and complex laws is to avoid loopholes, but the way I see it, the more specific you get, the more loopholes you create.

          1. SleepyJohn
            Big Brother

            Re: Better legislation to appear

            Yes. As Paul Shirley shrewdly noted, the loopholes are invariably deliberately hidden somewhere so that those in power can utilise them should the need arise. The EU seems to be particularly skilled at this, churning out War and Peace screeds of such incomprehensible gibberish that no-one but they can interpret them. Which they duly do at the crucial moment to their entire satisfaction, calling on their tame Supreme Court to back them up if anyone dares to grumble. It is a worry.

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Good riddance

    ...and don't come back, ACTA.

    Was the "Copyright is Theft" subline really needed? It doesn't make any sense however you look at it.

    Copyright = Privilege (which may vary greatly in extent and moral justification) granted by state to a "right holder" (often a well-connected) to control the distribution and replication of an often intangible good. Apparently "creates new markets" and "puts the food on the plates of the creative types".

    Theft = Somone takes your TV. The ECB issues money, driving inflation. You are being hit by the taxman.

    Not the same thing at all.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Good riddance

      Was the "Copyright is Theft" subline really needed?

      Freudian slip.

    2. Colin Millar

      Re: Good riddance

      The clue is in the word itself

      Copyright = a right - not a privilege - there is a vast difference.

      Having a problem with the machinations of tax-dodging global corporates is one thing. The answer is to address their behaviour - not attack the underlying principle that people have a right to enjoy the fruits of their creative labour. You can't occupy the moral high ground if your stance is basically that the end justifies the means.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good riddance

        > The clue is in the word itself

        The original poster is talking about natural rights. There is nothing "natural" about copyright. It is a legal compromise that we hope will bring, on balance, benefit to society at large.

        There is no fundamental reason why one person should have a monopoly of an idea, however emotionally attached they are to it. It is a privilege that society bestows on creators because as a society we wish it.

        Make no mistake, we could take it away if we deemed that, in the round, society was the poorer for copyright.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Judicial Review

    Was initially asked for by parts of the European Parliament many months ago but refused by the Commission which was confident it could railroad through the secret legislation. Secret legislation is intrinsically undemocratic. The treaty will be unbundled to handle trademark and copyright separately an be renegotiated, hopefully in public, and might have a chance of succeeding.

  8. Chad H.

    “The European Parliament has totally ignored proper judicial procedure. It has given in to pressure from anti-copyright groups despite calls from thousands of companies and workers in manufacturing and creative sectors who have called for ACTA to be signed in order that their rights as creators be protected.”

    He went on to say:

    "Why couldnt they do what they normally do? Give into pressure from the copyright groups, ignoring the thousands who think that we've gone too far, particularly in light of the extreme measures we've had to take to safeguard our content".

  9. Dave 150
    Thumb Up


    The tough rules against DRM had been watered down...

    Yeah you can circumvent DRM where the law says you can, unfortunately the treaty also banned the software tools for doing the circumventing, even where their use might be legal

  10. Duke

    Wonderful by-line

    "Intellectual property is theft, says Brussels"

    What? No one said anything about intellectual property being theft. Most of those opposed to ACTA were generally in support of IP enforcement, but didn't think that ACTA was the right way of doing it (either in terms of content, the vagueness of the wording, or how it was negotiated). Strike one.

    Plus, there seems to be a misunderstanding as to how the EU works; the European Parliament holds its plenary sessions in Strasbourg, not Brussels. It holds its committee meetings and so on in Brussels, and its secretariat is based in Luxembourg, but the vote was held in Strasbourg, so nothing to do with Brussels. Strike two.

    "The treaty lost its copyright liability provisions some time ago..." is also complete nonsense. The copyright liability provisions are still in ACTA, see in particular articles 23 and 27, both of which impose liability (including criminal liability) in relation to copyright. Strike three. A good thing there isn't a three-strikes system for inaccurate journalism.

    With regard to the title, I'm not sure what the relevance of it being rejected before the court examined it - I was under the impression that most laws were voted on by Parliaments without court approval, with challenges being made through the courts later. The court isn't in a position to determine whether or not the proposed law is a sensible law, only whether it fits within the competence of the EU.

    1. Zombie Womble

      Re: Wonderful by-line

      This 'treaty' has been rejected therefore it's legality is a none issue.

      I have no idea why some people are looking to this review as though it would change anything, just because a court decides that something is legal doesn't have any bearing on whether it has to be passed or whether it is sensible or acceptable.

      ACTA is dead and although some may not like the fact they have to understand this is how democracy works and get over it.

    2. SleepyJohn
      Big Brother

      Re: Wonderful by-line

      I believe the reason for the Commission wanting to send it to the Court first to examine its legality was to delay the Parliament addressing ACTA until everyone had forgotten it or gone on holiday, so it could be pushed through while no-one was looking.

    3. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Wonderful by-line

      @duke - quite true and well clarified.

      Just a minor point about the EU parliament, they actually are based in BOTH Brussels and Strasbourg. The damn French insisted that the EU parliament be physically located in France, while everyone else had agreed on Brussels, and in the end the fudged compromise was that the EU parliament meets in Brussels but 1 week every month they meet in Strasbourg. So twice every month an army of support staff and a little village-full of logistical stuff is ferried between Brussels and Strasbourg, costing the EU taxpayer millions of Euros a year just so French honour can be satisfied.

  11. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Good News Everybody

    Now all we need is for Belgium, the UK, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden to repeal the shit they signed in Janurary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good News Everybody

      Individual EU nations will struggle to fully implement the treaty independently of and in opposition to the EU. One of those pesky "national sovereignty" issues the centre-right enjoy prattling on about. They'd have to implement the treaty in such a way that it only applied to non-EU citizens, as otherwise they'd be enacting barriers on intra-EU operation, which just isn't cricket.

      You're also confusing signing a treaty and ratifying it. It can't be repealed until it is ratified. It doesn't come into force unless it is ratified, which almost certainly will not happen with such an emphatic no vote from the european parliament. There's just no way to make it work within the EU, so there's no point in implementing it with respect to everything outside the EU.

  12. Livinglegend


    repeal the stupid cookie laws. The UK are the only country bothering as the gov seeks £1,000 fines from small websites to pay for MPs expenses.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Dickhead

      It's not just the UK that has adopted the European law into national law. Other countries were even faster. As for enforcement the ICO has made it pretty clear that it won't be targeting small websites.

    2. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Next

      Yes. Let the megacorps track us as much as they see fit. After all, isn't anything else communism or something?

      No. Let's not remove laws that are there for the protection of individuals against companies who feel that the world must be laid out for their benefit.

      If you want to advertise, feel free but if you want to find out more about me than I am happy about, I politely ask you to go away. Anything I judge to be intrusive or creepy puts your products on my "do not use" list.

      We do not need advertising anyway. I may do research about something. In that case, I want information to compare. I do not need reminded about your insurance/sweets/payday loans/baked beans/etc while I am on the internet or anywhere else.

  13. PC Paul
    Thumb Up

    Missed the point completely...

    Wow, I know some of the Reg authors are out of touch with the general feel amongst the readers, but I think this is the first time I've seen EVERY SINGLE comment disagreeing with the main thrust of the article.

    Yes there may have been some good bits in there - but if they were so good, why did it have to be all done in secret? THAT is why it's been thrown out.

    Let's hope that lesson has been learned, at least...

    1. Mr Temporary Handle

      Re: Missed the point completely...

      It's just Andrew on his high horse again. Intellectual property is theft my arse!

      If I didn't know better I'd think he was deliberately trolling for exactly this sort of reaction. I can't remember the exact quote or it's origin, but it says something about the only thing worst than being talked about is NOT being talked about.

      But regardless of Andrew's copyright fetish and the rights or wrongs of ACTA, there's no denying the whole thing was handled wrongly.

      If you act like you have something to hide then that's what most people are going to believe even if the evidence proves otherwise.

      Personally I think it's a very bad piece of legislation with some nasty traps but it's not quite as bad as some of it's more hysterical opponents would have us believe.

      And contrary to popular opinion it's not actually dead yet. Karel de Gucht has stated publicly that he intents to keep forcing it down the EU parliament's throat until they swallow it.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Missed the point completely...

      Thanks to the newfangled "topics" section I can now jump to the comments on Andrew's articles on copyright without going through the ordeal of reading the actual article. The only good bits are in the comments anyway. Although I am a bit disappointed by the lack of flames and theunder this time. Commentards must get accustomed.

      It's a shame that the treaty did not go through the judicial review; it would almost certainly have failed it, which would have been good in preventing that kind of things from happening again. As it is we'll see an almost identical replacement smuggled in more discretely. Probably within a year.

    3. Jeebus

      Re: Missed the point completely...

      Andrew found a copy of Atlas Shrugged as a child, and has never read another book since. The sad thing is that this wild guess looks very, very accurate.

  14. PyLETS

    Horror of horrors

    Elected representatives make decisions about laws before the judges wade in. Wasn't that the way it's supposed to work ?

    1. AlanS
      Thumb Up

      Re: Horror of horrors

      I not only agree so that I upvoted your comment, I compliment you on the correct use of apostrophes!

  15. Peter Galbavy

    laws should be about fairness. ACTA isn't

    Apart from the secrecy around it's drafting and being presented to notional democracies as a fait acompli the biggest issues (IMHO) with most of it's flaws are that it is/was fundamentally inequitable. Most of the provisions are there to skew the power of the large commercial interests against smaller and individual creators and IP owners. It removes protection for consumers in the guise of protecting them by letting the big media interests run things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: laws should be about fairness. ACTA isn't

      No (copyright) laws should not be about fairness, they should be about protecting "art'. If you want the art then you pay for it and comply with the terms of use or you go without.

      ACTA will be replaced and pirates will receive even harsher punishment, as they should.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: laws should be about fairness. ACTA isn't

        "they should be about protecting "art'"

        so You consider your text above and everything written to be "art" then Anonymous , as that and all others text is actually automatically covered by existing copyright laws today as it should always be and clearly its not "art".

  16. Tom 35

    Intellectual property is theft

    And that line is just as true as your normal copying is theft line, that is total bull shit.

    What is the connection between "intercepting counterfeit trade - including fake drugs - across borders" and "the entertainment industry"?

    Where is the part about financing drug dealers and terrorists?

  17. Captain DaFt
    Big Brother

    Don't celebrate just yet, folks

    Karel De Gucht European Commissioner for Trade says ACTA will be law despite Parliment

    Quote:"If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do. A negative vote will not stop the proceedings before the Court of Justice.

    If the Court questions the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed.

    However, I expect that the Court will instead find ACTA to be fully in conformity with the Treaties."

    So damn the democracy, FULL ACTA AHEAD!

    1. localzuk

      Re: Don't celebrate just yet, folks

      Without the Parliament agreeing it, it cannot become EU law. That's plain and simple.

      1. Captain DaFt

        @: localzuc

        Yes, Parliment turned it down... this time.

        But if it gets the blessing of the Court, or gets tweaked just enough that will, it'll be presented for vote again and again until they give in and pass it.

        At least that's what the plan looks like me. This thing's going to have more lives than Jason.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Don't celebrate just yet, folks

      He's right, in that the Commission has the right and perhaps even the obligation to continue to try and get such international legislation passed. He also goes on to say:

      Second, once we will have identified and discussed these possible clarifications, I would intend to make a second request for consent to the European Parliament. Whether the Parliament will consider it under this legislature or the subsequent one, will be for you to decide.

      ie. the treaty would need amendment before being resubmitted to the European Parliament.

      Of course, the rejection is also an instruction to the Commission to start renegotiating the treaty without waiting for the Court to publish its opinion.

    3. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Don't celebrate just yet, folks

      That's one of the major flaws of the EU right there - The commission (1 commissioner appointed by each member government = political appointees NOT elected) has the power to propose laws. The EU parliament (the MEPs who are actually elected) can only vote yes or no on laws put before them. (I'm not 100% sure but I believe they are allowed to propose amendments but commission has final veto on amendments).

      This is basically rubbish since the vested interests that control the political appointees will be pushing for the laws that interest them. There needs to be a reversal in the structure, with the elected parliament getting more power house.

  18. veti Silver badge

    [Citation needed]

    Where does Mr Orlowski get his information that "the treaty lost its copyright liability provisions"?

    Certainly, from what I can see from official sources (e.g., the dreaded Article 27 is still very much part of the text. The Commission's argument for keeping it in ( is basically that it won't make any difference anyway, which seems to me a stronger argument for taking it out.

    I know El Reg sees itself as a counterweight to the huge swathes of freetard websites and propaganda out there, but sometimes I wish it could act just a smidge more like a reputable source and less like a tabloid.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: [Citation needed]

      Here's Article 27:

      "endeavour to promote cooperative efforts within the business community to effectively address trademark and copyright or related rights infringement while preserving legitimate competition and, consistent with that Party's law, preserving fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy."

      "A Party may provide, in accordance with its laws and regulations, its competent authorities with the authority to order an online service provider to disclose expeditiously to a right holder information sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for infringement, where that right holder has filed a legally sufficient claim of trademark or copyright or related rights infringement, and where such information is being sought for the purpose of protecting or enforcing those rights. These procedures shall be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity, including electronic commerce, and, consistent with that Party's law, preserves fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy."

      Bugger all new there, and no compulsion on a member state to pass new laws on IP address disclosure.

      But it's 2012, and angry freetards say the sky is falling each time they see the word copyright - ignoring the other words around it.

      You're doing exactly what the numpties did here:

      'Don't care if you inspect farmers - STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING'

      1. SleepyJohn

        Re: [Citation needed]

        "You're doing exactly what the numpties did here:

        'Don't care if you inspect farmers - STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING' "

        He certainly is not. veti made a perfectly valid point, clearly based on knowledge of the subject: "The Commission's argument for keeping it in is basically that it won't make any difference anyway, which seems to me a stronger argument for taking it out", and this fatuous, irrelevant gutter press 'story', with a puerile, obnoxious jibe that is obviously untrue, is your carefully considered response as a professional journalist? Are you merely an idiot, or did you train with the MAFIAA?

        No wonder ACTA was slung out if this is the best argument its frothing disciples can muster against a careful, rational observation such as veti made. I think you owe him an apology: this is not robust debate, it is childish spiteful rubbish, and there should be no place for it here. However upset your media pals may be.

        Frankly, my chickens could have knocked up a better-constructed, more balanced piece of journalism than you have produced on what I am sure the general populace, worldwide, sees as a rare triumph of democracy. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: [Citation needed]

        Andrew, if the idea is to prove that Article 27 is harmless by quoting it, then you really needed to quote *all* of it.

        "Each Party shall ensure that enforcement procedures [...] are available under its law so as to permit effective action against an act of infringement of intellectual property rights which takes place in the digital environment, including expeditious remedies to prevent infringement and remedies which constitute a deterrent to further infringements.[...]

        "[...] These procedures shall be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity, including electronic commerce [...]

        (Yes, I'm selectively quoting as well.)

        And don't get me started on the pointless convolution it adds to existing international treaties on DRM...

  19. JaitcH

    If the EU rejects it ...

    and with a population greater than that of Canada and the USA, it effectively kills it world wide.

    Notice how the EU is doing a lot of good things that the US Congress no longer does, because they get bought off?

    1. PyLETS

      Re: If the EU rejects it ...

      The US congress rejected SOPA/PIPA once push came to shove. Traditionally things went the other way because big media were the only effective intermediation between politics and voters so they got everything their lobbyists wanted. Now that the Internet community has become effective in mobilising political support, the game has changed. While Andrew will claim the sky is falling down and that art is doomed, I don't see a majority opposed to all possible forms of copyright anytime soon, but there seems to be a large enough group of concerned enough citizens capable of being mobilised who are sufficiently opposed to extreme copyright for legislators in wired parts of the world to have to think twice about such proposals.

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick

        Re: If the EU rejects it ...

        "I don't see a majority opposed to all possible forms of copyright"

        Where do you see any "Internet" majority anywhere ? Like it or not, the Web has many fiercely anti-democratic methods, and the Fanboy-Industrial Complex is no less a threat than the Military-Industrial Complex ever was.

  20. andro

    Next we need to block the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Its more of the same, and just as secret but its not being pushed in Europe, so it is not as much be in the public eye. If it is being proposed in your country (or even if it isnt) see here:


    Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, USA , Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore (source: )

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