Fears copyright deal damages people’s rights

City A.M. Reporter
EUROPE’S top court will determine whether a global trade agreement on copyright theft breaches citizens’ fundamental rights including the freedom of expression, the European Commission said yesterday.

The European Union executive said it had referred the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is designed to tackle intellectual property theft, to the European Court of Justice for evaluation in response to concerns it could damage people’s basic rights.

Its decision may complicate and delay the pact’s entry into force across the EU. It is backed by the United States and others but many countries throughout the EU have yet to adopt it.

“The Commission aims to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on what ACTA is about and whether it harms fundamental rights in any way,” the EU executive said in a statement.

Karel de Gucht, the EU commissioner for trade, said the referral would allow the court to independently clarify the legality of the agreement.

“Considering that tens of thousands of people have voiced their concerns about ACTA, it is appropriate to give our highest independent judicial body the time to deliver its legal opinion on this agreement. This is an important input to European public and democratic debate,” he said.

The Luxembourg-based court can take months before it issues opinions in such cases.
The pact aims to reduce intellectual property theft.