TECH

Acta Protesters Take To The Streets Across Europe

13/02/2012 11:30 GMT | Updated 13/02/2012 11:55 GMT

Protesters against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) took to the streets of Europe on Sunday to protest the act which aims to streamline international legislation against online piracy of goods and content.

From Germany to Sofia, Warsaw, Prague, Slovakia, Bucharest, Vilnius, Paris, Brussels and Dublin thousands turned out to argue against the proposed agreement.

Just 200 protesters demonstrated in central London outside the offices of "rights holder representative groups", according to InfoWars.

The Guardian reports that protestors have the support of the European Parliament president Martin Schulz.

In an interview on Germany's ARD television on Sunday, he said: "I don't find it good in its current form."

He went on to say that the balance between copyright protection and the individual rights of internet users was inadequately balanced in the agreement.

The aim of Acta is to standardise copyright protection measures in the EU, and would stop the trade of counterfeited physical goods including pharmaceuticals.

Supporters, including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, say it protects rights holders.

In a statement, the MPAA said: "The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is an important step forward in developing strengthened international cooperation and enforcement of intellectual property rights."

Demonstrators are against Acta, because they say it will limit freedom of speech online. They also say that it could mean generic drug and seed manufacturers could be crushed by big pharma and larger agricultural producers.

Rohit Malpani of Oxfam said in a press release: "A trade agenda that limits the legitimate movement of cheap generic medicines will hit the poorest people in developing countries unfairly hard."

In Prague, the government has suspended support for the bill, and the trade minister has called for an open debate between the supporters and opponents of Acta.

Acta has been signed by 22 EU members, including the UK, but is yet to be ratified by the European Parliament.

Download and read the full text of Acta.