The European Parliament [official website] on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to reject [press release] the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [text, PDF] in a vote of 39 in favor and 478 opposed, with 165 abstentions. The ACTA is designed to curb intellectual property theft, such as production of counterfeit goods and medicine as well as digital file-sharing of pirated media. The International Trade Committee (INTA) [official website] of the European Parliament rejected the ACTA [JURIST report] last month, after concluding that its vague language and disproportional fines could infringe upon individuals' right to free expression. The Parliament received an "unprecedented" amount of input from European citizens concerned about the implications of the ACTA.
In February, the European Commission announced [JURIST report] that it would seek guidance from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) before ratifying the ACTA to ease protesters' concerns with the ACTA's possible censorship of free expression. Hearings on a similar bill in the US were postponed [JURIST report] in January by Representative Darrell Issa [official website] of California. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) [text, PDF] would have effectively blocked foreign websites that are suspected to infringe copyrights and give the US Department of Justice (DOJ) increased authority in counterfeiting copyright infringement. In November, the ECJ ruled [JURIST report] that Internet service providers (ISPs) cannot be required by law to monitor their customers' activities as an attempt to combat illegal sharing of copyrighted material.