Wednesday 4th July 2012 the EU Parliament rejected the passing of ACTA "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade-Agreement" as law. ACTA was overwhelmingly rejected by 478 MEPs, with only 39 MEPs in voting in favour of ACTA, however 165 MEPs abstained from voting.
ACTA is a World-Wide treaty that promoted as protecting intellectual property rights of entities that produce motion pictures, music, computer games, software, fashion goods, pharmaceuticals and anything that has a brand name that could be counterfeited or rather the brand name, even its name could be replicated without the knowledge or authorisation of the copyright, patent brand or franchise owner.
Effectively, articles in ACTA could have been deemed and the law implemented in such a way that no one would have been able to even write the brand name of a product or service without the authorisation of the brand name owner.
An example of such a situation is if a news organisation uses the name of a Bank in a news item in the media over a scandal, a disgruntled consumer or activist blogger complains about the bank on independent Social Media sites, they would have needed the permission of the Bank to use the bank’s name or the media organisation, disgruntled consumer or activist blogger could have been subject to civil even criminal charges and fines.
In short, ACTA could have been interpreted and misused by powerful organisations in such a way that could have resulted in eventual all out censorship of the internet and suppress Free Speech and civil liberties.
The EU with 22 individual EU member states, the US, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Morocco signed the treaty 26th January 2012.
January 18 2012 Organisations like Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation blacked out their websites for the day in protest against SOPA and PIPA being passed in the US, along with major protests by entrepreneurs in Web and Digital Media sectors across the United States, with strong opposition by major organisations and their executives such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, EEF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), and Human Rights Watch along with a long list of other organisations. Even well-known News Presenters at CNN came out in protest against PIPA and SOPA blacking out -their own personal websites and social media pages.
The underlying concern by all in opposition to SOPA, PIPA and ACTA is not Piracy or Copyright theft, but that are the foundations for something more sinister, censorship and total control of the freedom of speech.
17 February 2012, we received the below statement from the Office of Nigel Farage UKIP Member of European Parliament in Brussels in the wake of the World-Wide protests on January 18 2012 against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA or PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act).
MEP Nigel Garage, in the below statement, is addressing the mechanism by which ACTA is being proposed in the European Parliament and in the parliaments’ of the individual member states. The EU Parliament can be construed as an overly complex decision making system, supposedly for the benefit of EU Citizens; but how can one have trust and faith in such a system of Parliament where most of the MEPs representing EU Citizens are not fully aware of the issues and bills, yet alone the long-term implications across Europe in passing such an act?
Not only must the agendas, rationale mechanisms be questioned in passing ACTA, but also the ethics of the act itself.
From the Office of Nigel Farage - UKIP MEP in Brussels
ACTA transfers questions of copyright-, patent- and trademark-infringement, from civil law to criminal law, in 39 countries (assuming that Germany, Estonia, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Slovakia will ratify it)* and stipulates, without democratic authority, what that criminal law shall consist of.
It stipulates also that a QUANGO be set up (at public expense) by each signatory-government, to receive complaints from rights-holders and impose, on infringers, penalties "sufficient to have deterrent effect".
The ACTA-Committee, on which EU-governments will have a 27/12 majority, will meet periodically to consider ACTA-amendments, which will become law, in all 39 states, when every signatory-government has ratified them, without further consideration by any elected body - not even the EU's so-called "parliament".
Because UKIP insists on defending and restoring the sovereignty of the electorate and on the responsibility of elected representatives alone to make laws, UKIP is the only party to have opposed the ACTA unconditionally since it was first proposed.
Others (mainly Greens, Socialists and "Pirates") expressed disquiet about ACTA, in the EU's "parliament"; but they also subscribed to a Written Declaration and a Parliamentary Resolution, which merely called upon the EU-Commission to negotiate ACTA according to certain guidelines and including certain safeguards. Thus, these statements failed to challenge either the essential rationale of ACTA, or the EU-Commission's legitimacy as the ACTA-negotiator. UKIP challenges both of these things and so refused to subscribe to either statement.
In the approach to the 2010 General Election, in the UK, this refusal was alleged, by the Pirate-Party, to be evidence that UKIP was in favour of ACTA - an absurd allegation, which had little impact - but the counter-accusation, that the leftists and "Pirates" are ready to accept some kind of EU-negotiated ACTA, is much more realistic, and serious.
However, if the five governments, indicated above, sign the ACTA, then the agreement will come before the EU's "parliament" and can expect a rough reception there. The Greens and Socialists - with 248 votes between them - have said they will oppose it. The "United Left" (34 votes) will follow suit. Most of the EFD - including UKIP - and the NI (total 63 members) will also vote against. The ECR - including the Tories - (53 members) may then feel that it cannot get away with not voting against, in which case, even if all of the EPP and ALDE - including the LibDems - vote for ACTA, this would provide a majority-against of 26, the defeat of ACTA and the first defeat of a major Commission-proposal since 2005.
Prior to this, we shall see if an instrument can be raised - by UKIP-Peers, in the House of Lords - calling upon HMG to withdraw its signature from ACTA. By doing this, we would attract more public attention to ACTA and to UKIP's opposition to it, even though the instrument would almost certainly be rejected, because both the Commons' and the Lords' "EU-scrutiny-committees" expedited the ACTA, last year, without even putting it to votes, in their respective Houses.
(In the Commons Scrutiny-Committee - Chairman, the famous "EU-Septic", Bill Cash - the ACTA was included among "22 [EU-] documents not raising questions of sufficient legal or political importance to warrant a substantive report to the House", and was nodded through on that basis!)
Westminster having thus become, predominantly, the haunt of EU-sycophants and EU-careerists, it falls to the EU's "parliament" (which is usually even worse) to stand in the way of a seminal, politico-commercial, supra-nationalist initiative, and UKIP will make every effort to ensure that, for only the second time this century, it actually does so.