ACTA, the controversial anti-piracy agreement, 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 E.U. and other signing countries, including the United States.
It follows the treaty's rapporteur David Martin MEP warning 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 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 June 21. INTA's stance will be interesting. Historically, the committee's opinion is highly influential though not binding, the EFF says, 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 included a three-strike rule; measures which would force persistent file-sharers and copyright infringers off the web after three warnings. Though U.S. rights holders backed the measures, the U.S. may still enact the three-strike rule. However, European citizens would not be subject to the rule.
22 member states, including the U.K., 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.
Image credit: Gwenaël Piaser/Flickr.
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