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ACTA: Europe Braced for Protests Over Anti-Piracy Treaty

Obama has already signed trade agreement worse than SOPA, PIPA

Common Dreams staff

Protestors, some wearing Guy Fawkes masks, take part in a demonstration in Stockholm on February 2, 2012 to protest against the Swedish government's plan to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Banner reads: preserve the Internet say no to ACTA! (AP Photo/Fredrik Persson)

Protests against the regressive Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, are flaring up across Europe, with over 100 planned for this Saturday, February 11th.

While organized opposition in the US kept SOPA and PIPA from moving forward, President Obama already signed ACTA months ago. The International Business Times reported:

ACTA, on the other hand, was already signed by the United States on Oct. 11, 2011, and Obama was not required to attain the approval of any outside authority to do so: not the Congress, not the Supreme Court, and not the American public.

Now that it has been signed, the legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government also have little ability to challenge or amend the treaty, and Americans will be subject to a whole new scheme of laws, restrictions and regulations that could have them facing fines or jail through a process that would likely exist entirely outside the scope of the American justice system.

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The BBC is reporting:

Further protests in opposition to controversial anti-piracy measures have taken place, with another 100 expected to happen in Europe this week.

A petition calling for the rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has attracted over 1.75 million signatures.

The treaty intends to standardize copyright protection measures, but has been heavily criticized.

On Saturday, about 2,000 people marched in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.

More co-ordinated action is expected to take place across Europe on 11 February.

The Slovenian protests were spearheaded by the country's ambassador to Japan, Helena Drnovsek Zorko, and follow similar protests in Poland in which tens of thousands took to the streets.

Last week, Ms Zorko apologized for her "carelessness" in signing the treaty.

Last week, Slovenian ambassador Helena Drnovsek Zorko apologized for her "carelessness" in signing the treaty.  She admitted: "I did not pay enough attention."In a lengthy statement she admitted: "I did not pay enough attention.

"Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been instructed to sign with the agreement that, according to my own civic conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly the future of our children." [...]

Activism website lists more than 100 protests scheduled across Europe on Saturday, including events in London, Munich and Paris.

The petition, which is aiming for over two million signatures, will be "delivered to decision-makers" in Brussels in the coming days, organizers said.

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Protest Halts Czech Ratification of Copyright Law

The Associated Press reports:

The Czech prime minister says his government is suspending the ratification of an international copyright treaty following street protests and attacks on the government's and his party's websites.

Petr Necas said Monday the government needs to analyze the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, which the country signed last month. The treaty still has to be approved by Parliament. [...]

Neighboring Poland also suspended the treaty's ratification last week following a series of protests and a spate of attacks on its government websites.

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