The European Parliament has passed a resolution supporting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international treaty that is designed to crack down on counterfeiting and unlawful file-sharing.
The resolution, proposed by a conservative grouping in the Parliament, was passed by 331 votes to 294. Another resolution, drawn up by a more left-leaning grouping, was rejected. However, the parliamentary poll that took place on Wednesday was not the official vote to approve the treaty (Acta) — that vote can only happen following the legal review of Acta, which will take place next week in Sydney.
"The Commission welcomes the European Parliament resolution on Acta and the confidence expressed so far by MEPs towards the accord," John Clancy, spokesman for EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht, said in a statement on Thursday.
However, the anti-Acta lobby was less pleased. "This vote is a terrible blow to EU citizens," Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net, said in a statement on Wednesday. "It shows that the conservatives and some of their allies can get the Parliament to vote in favour of Acta. We must keep in mind that the most important vote will be the forthcoming 'consent' vote, when the European Parliament will have an opportunity to reject Acta as a whole."
The rights-holder lobby's response to the finalised Acta text has been mixed. On 6 October, Business Software Alliance (BSA) chief Robert Holleyman said the signatories were "declaring to the world through their actions that they understand intellectual property enforcement is vital for technological progress and economic growth". On 9 November, though, Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) chief John Lovelock complained that the final text did not go far enough.
"What is this voluntary trade agreement worth in real terms and does it actually add anything new to the international intellectual property enforcement framework? The answer has to be 'not a lot' unless it acts as a springboard for UK statutory damages following the example of the USA," Lovelock said in a statement at the time.