European Parliament crushes ACTA in “biggest ever legislative defeat”

ATCA Image by Judith SargenitiniThe controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, has been rejected by the European Parliament, in a crushing vote made earlier today.

A tweet from the official European Parliament’s Twitter news account said simply “European Parliament has rejected the ACTA agreement,” but this doesn’t quite do justice to how roundly it was beaten.

Of the 682 voting, 478 voted against ACTA and 165 abstained, leaving a mere 39 in favor of the treaty. It’s being called Parliament’s biggest ever legislative defeat.

The BBC reports that after the decision was announced, some of the people attending the vote held up signs saying “hello democracy, goodbye ACTA,” one of which was caught in the picture you see above by Dutch GreenLeft MEP Judith Sargenitini.

We covered ACTA, its implications and its history in considerable detail recently, and at the time mentioned that rejection was the expected outcome, although few perhaps expected such a crushing defeat.

The founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, Rick Falkvinge, writing for TorrentFreak.com, said “this is a day for celebration” in a gushing piece for the site, where he congratulates activists for standing up “for our most basic rights against corporate giants.”

Loz Kaye, the leader of the Pirate Party in the UK called the vote “a triumph of democracy over special interests and shady back-room deals,” and vowed to oppose future treaties “that seek to attack our fundamental rights.”

It’s also a major victory for David Martin, the MEP against the treaty from the start, who also commented on the historic nature of the vote in a blog post. He will be holding a press conference later today to talk about the victory.

Is ACTA now dead? Its failure to make it through the European vote is a major blow, but it can still be enabled in other countries, including the USA. However, despite several countries outside the States agreeing in principle to ACTA, it will still need to be ratified, and its defeat in the EU will go against that happening.

What’s more likely is that it will make a comeback under an alternative name after being subtly tweaked, but potentially with the same problems as before.

For now though, those who campaigned against ACTA can give themselves a congratulatory pat on the back, for a job well done.