The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was an EU treaty to protect copyright—but many feared that it was too restrictive and would in turn lead to online censorship. Fortunately the European Parliament has just rejected the agreement, meaning the internet lives to fight another day.
In a landslide vote, 478 member of the parliament voted against the agreement compared to just 39 who were in favour. That means it cannot come into force anywhere within the EU. ACTA could, however, go on to become reality elsewhere in the world, but only if six of the eight non-EU countries that have signed it go on to ratify it—which is now incredibly unlikely.
In some ways comparable to the US government's SOPA bill, ACTA was conceived five years ago as an international agreement to clamp down on counterfeiting and copyright infringement. It ruffled feathers because it was framed as a trade agreement, which meant that all the talks surrounding it were held in private.
Leaked documents, including some from WikiLeaks, brought the agreement's ramifications to light, and in turn prompted weighty campaigning. The agreement, you see, demanded the criminalisation of "commercial-scale" copyright infringement—but its definition of "commercial scale" was broad. So broad that it was feared that it could turn thousands, perhaps millions, of internet users intro criminals overnight. It also completely criminalised the circumvention of DRM.
Now, though, the agreement looks to have gasped its last breath. Officially dead in the EU, most commentators now believe it's only a matter of time before ACTA is kicked out internationally. Good riddance. [ZDNet]
Image by rockcohen under Creative Commons license