Piracy Agreement Must Go Offline- Prendergast

Labour MEP for Munster Phil Prendergast vowed to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), as the European Commission announced, today, the text of its referral of the agreement to the European Court of Justice, in response to massive pressure from opponents to ACTA.

Labour MEP for Munster Phil Prendergast vowed to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), as the European Commission announced, today, the text of its referral of the agreement to the European Court of Justice, in response to massive pressure from opponents to ACTA.

Ms. Prendergast said “I intend to vote against this botched copyrights agreement in order to safeguard fundamental EU values such as freedom of expression, the right to information and data protection.

“In my view, ACTA is also harmful to online and R&D business start ups which we need to nurture in Ireland for a sustainable economic recovery.

“This treaty recklessly lumps together anti-counterfeiting enforcement - which can be a matter of life and death when fake medicines are involved - and copyrights enforcement, including internet piracy, which are, and should be, dealt with by different EU laws. These laws need updating too and I see no reason to tie our hands with this bad agreement.

“A positive ECJ assessment of this agreement’s compliance with current EU law will not justify its adoption. There are important political issues that MEPs, as citizens’ representatives, have a responsibility to decide on, beyond the legal remit of the court.

“Parliament has more than one rejected the harmonisation of criminal enforcement of copyrights. A positive assessment of ACTA’s legal provisions by the ECJ cannot address the issue of whether the EU wants, or needs, to legislate in this area. It remains a matter of political choice for us as parliamentarians.

“In economic terms, ACTA is of questionable value for Europe. Its provisions on civil and criminal sanctions, damage calculation and liability could lead to an innovation chill due to SME and start-up fears of backbreaking legal costs, not to mention pre-emptive self-censorship.

“The countries where most counterfeit and pirated goods are made were not even invited to the negotiating table and are now opposing ACTA. Moreover, the European Parliament has also been shut out of the talks. Crucial legislation like this needs to be scrutinised democratically, not rammed through the backdoor by a group of countries in closed-door negotiations.”