Europe moves closer to ratifying ACTA
1st February, 2012
Twenty two European nations signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on 26th January, 2012. The agreement is required to be ratified by the European Parliament before it can become law. The European Parliament is expected to debate it in June this year.
Last year, in December, Council of European Union had adopted the decision authorising the signing of ACTA. The U.K. has stated that ACTA will set an international standard for tackling large-scale infringements of IPR, through common enforcement norms and more effective international cooperation.
ACTA provides for stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights and copyrights in particular. Approvals and ratifications apart, the pact has attracted wide-spread criticism across the globe including Europe.
Critics argue that it will stifle freedom of expression and information, placing too much power in the hands of the right holder. These ‘TRIPS-plus’ measures include criminalising IP infringements, providing for surveillance of online data sharing, requiring service providers to give information of alleged violators and border measures to seize ‘suspect’ goods.
In the U.S., legal validity of ACTA is being questioned citing lack of transparency in negotiations and using powers of the President to ratify it without Congressional debate.