European parliament

Victory over ACTA comes at a price

In rejecting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), MEPs have shown that they are not insensitive to the mood of public opinion, reports a largely enthusiastic European press. At the same time, however, the undermining of intellectual property rights remains a cause for concern.

Published on 5 July 2012 at 14:31

“ACTA is dead while parliament has woken up,” announces a jubilant Mediapart. For the French news website —


… the rejection of the anti-counterfeiting agreement will be a milestone in the repoliticisation of Europe. Perceived as complex, faraway, procedure obsessed structure with few identifiable orators, condemned to move forward in the tiny steps represented by declarations and opinions […], with the rejection of ACTA, Europe has shown that mobilised citizens can make an impact. [Having said that], the growing power of the European legislature appears to be limited to questions of civil liberties and the defence of citizens’ rights, while MEPs remain largely inaudible on other European issues. […] There is no guarantee that the upsurge in the parliament’s popularity will survive when it returns to the more distant technical subjects which account for most of its work.

In Gazeta Wyborcza, columnist Ewa Siedlecka hails “a major victory for civil society” and the “people of Europe” who have proved they do in fact exist —


Put under pressure, the politicians who had prepared and supported the agreement let it fall […] At the same time, the total absence of transparency in the manner in which ACTA was developed by the Commission drew attention to a very ugly side of the EU. Everything was based on secret negotiations with the US and Japan.

For Rzeczpospolita, “the vote in the European parliament proves that ACTA in its current form is dead in the water”. However the daily argues —


The protests organised by internet users should not be taken to mean that ACTA has no appeal. Approximately 130 authors’ and media organisations have expressed support for the agreement. […] Nor does the end of ACTA mean that the EU has set aside all plans for an agreement on intellectual property. Every year media businesses and the artists whose works are pirated are deprived of significant sums by Internet piracy and the importers of counterfeit goods.

This is “bad news for publishers concerned about copyright,” points out Edoardo Segantini in Corriere della Sera


Once again, European politicians allowed themselves to be swayed by reasons put forward by a vaguely defined “people of the web”, an entity that serves to hide the much more definite interests of those who want to continue to profit from intellectual property that is not theirs to exploit, but which belongs to a publishing and music industry that provides 120 millions jobs in Europe. […] The populist attitude adopted by the politicians is not the only surprising aspect of this story: the other is the obvious sympathy — and even support — for copyright thieves demonstrated by the same media that are their ultimate victims.

For its part Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung deplores a “victory for the pack” —


The pack attacked ACTA and won […] The gregarious and arrogant cyber fetichists of this idealised and sacralised “web community” were intent on blocking a precedent that would, at last, have shown that the state was intent on doing the one thing only states alone can do: uphold the law. The manner in which the German government and later the German parliament bowed to the disinformation and intimidation of this web community is quite pitiful. Worse still, this agitation against the rule of law has been billed as a new form of democracy, and any remark about the totalitarian character of the digital masses is dismissed as “lobbying”. But is the force that defeated ACTA any different to a brutal lobby?”


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