Europe's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has asked the European Court of Justice to sift through the particulars of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and ensure that it is compatible with fundamental rights under current European Union laws. The international treaty to combat counterfeit goods and piracy is now officially on hold until the highest court in the land makes its determinations.
"For me, blocking the Internet is never an option," she wrote in a statement. "We need to find new, more modern and more effective ways in Europe to protect artistic creations that take account of technological developments and the freedoms of the internet."
Officially, the European Commission said it has "decided today to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the Acta agreement and its implementation must be fully compatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the internet."
"Let me be very clear: I share people's concern for these fundamental freedoms... especially over the freedom of the internet," EU trade head Karel De Gucht said at a press conference this morning. "This debate must be based upon facts, and not upon the misinformation and rumour that has dominated social media sites and blogs in recent weeks."
Karel De Gucht went on to say that ACTA's purpose has always been to protect the creative economy:
"[Acta] aims to raise global standards for intellectual property rights," he said, adding that the treaty "will help protect jobs currently lost because counterfeited, pirated goods worth 200bn euros are currently floating around".
The treaty has been signed by 22 European countries, along with the United States, Japan, and Canada. Some countries have delayed ratifying the bill, while some say they won't sign it without changes.
We will see what the court determines and let you know when that information becomes available.