COLOGNE, Germany -- ACTA is dead in the water, at least in Europe. That's the opinion of Alexander Alvaro, a member of the European Parliament who has been active in defending civil liberties in the European debate over the controversial pan-national copyright legislation.
Three of the European Parliament's most influential committees have come out strongly against the U.S.-backed agreement, which would crack down on online copyright infringement and the international trade in counterfeit goods. The committee on international trade will vote on ACTA on Thursday (June 20) before the legislation is put to a vote before the European Parliament.
"I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say I expect the parliament will reject ACTA," Alvaro said, speaking at a discussion about copyright and piracy at German media conference Medienforum NRW. "Are we justified in rejecting ACTA? No," he asked, rhetorically. "Is it sensible to do so? Yes."
Alvaro argued that the ACTA would be compatible with German and European law but that the process of shaping and debating the legislation "that will affect about 1 billion people worldwide" has been secretive and undemocratic. Ã¢Â€Â¨"Legislation that impacts such a large portion of the world's population can't be decided by a small group without the cooperation of these people and transparency," he said.
ACTA has been highly controversial in Europe. Thousands have protested against the trade agreement, which would legislate against cross-border trade in copyright-protected products between the European Union, the U.S. and several other countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia and Mexico.
Alvaro also warned that new copyright protection legislation currently being drafted in house by the European Commission, the so-called IPRED 2 directive, was being developed in the same non-transparent and non-democratic manner. He voiced concerns about three-strike provisions included in IPRED 2, which would allow governments to block Internet access for repeat online offenders. "The three strike model brings more drawbacks for users than it does benefits for copyright holders," Alvaro said, adding he did not think the European Parliament would pass IPRED 2 in its present form.