ACTA A Non-Starter

With the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement still waiting for ratification from the European parliament, Neelie Kroes has already made it clear the deal is a non-starter.

In her speech May 11, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital agenda said the agreement will be sunk by the weight of public opinion against it.

She said the world’s copyright industry will have to change to suit people, rather than expect people to bend to the will of the rights holders.

“We have recently seen how many thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet,” she explained. “This is a strong new political voice. And as a force for openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject.”

Ryan Heath, her spokesman, told said Kroes’ speech was observing “the political reality of the situation.”

Talks on an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement have been rumbling on since 2006, when the U.S. and Japan started a dialogue on a plan to stop counterfeit goods.

Later, when Canada, Australia, and the European Union became involved – and internet piracy began to take hold – the discussion turned to how the agreement could affect intellectual property.

The agreement became less popular each time details of the wording were leaked, causing the opposition to spread beyond committed illegal file-sharers to business blocks around the world.

The internet service providers were never in favour of the agreement, claiming it would create a lot of unpaid work on the way to annoying their customers.

Initially it appeared as if the European Parliament would ink the agreement, although in the last year or so more and more MPs have begun speaking out against it.

There was also growing opposition in America, where some congressmen said the agreement didn’t constitute an official treaty and didn’t merit putting to a vote.

Germany has led other European countries by stalling a decision until after the European parliament vote, which is due next month.