The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been overwhelmingly rejected by members of the European Parliament ahead of a wider vote.
Three committees were set to each vote on the proposals that would harmonise anti-counterfeit and anti-piracy measures around the EU and other signing countries, including the United States.
This follows the treaty's rapporteur David Martin MEP, who warned fellow parliamentarians not to pass the agreement in Europe's 27 member states.
The Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) all voted, bar one, against the agreement. The Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) voted by a narrow majority to reject the agreement. The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) also voted against the agreement by a majority.
It sends the strongest signal yet that European politicians are ready to veto the treaty.
A fourth group of European parliamentarians, the Committee on International Trade (INTA) will vote on 21 June. INTA's stance will be interesting. Historically, the committee's opinion is highly influential, though not binding, the EFF said, and could shape the outcome of the final vote.
It will be the final vote before it is accepted or rejected in the upcoming plenary session in July.
In 2010, the European Parliament voted not to pass ACTA if it were to include a three-strike rule — measures that would force persistent file sharers and copyright infringers off the web after three warnings. Though US rights holders backed the measures, the US may still enact the three-strike rule. However, European citizens would not be subject to it.
Including the UK and Australia, 22 member states, have already signed the treaty, but it has yet to be ratified by the European Union. Brussels is ultimately given the final say — much like in many other instances of European law.
If Europe rejects ACTA, the 20 member states will have their signatures erased, and will not be able to participate in the treaty, leaving the United States, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan and a few others fighting the battle alone.
Via ZDNet US