Poland, Slovenia reject ACTA
WARSAW - The Associated Press
Demonstrators protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on February 11, 2012 in Munich, southern Germany. AFP photoPoland and Slovenia said Friday they won't ratify an international copyright agreement that has infuriated Internet users, acknowledging misgivings about the deal.
The move marks a victory for grass-roots activists, overwhelmingly young Internet users, who have been waging protests for weeks against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA.
The treaty aims to fight international property theft, including online piracy. Critics say it would violate freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet.
The moves Friday are a potential blow for industrialized countries like the United States, which have pushed ACTA as a way of defending industries that produce music, film and other intellectual property goods that are targets for piracy and illegal counterfeiting.
As opposition to ACTA spreads, it's not clear if it will be approved at the European Union level either, potentially leaving a large part of the world out of the system.
Although Poland signed the treaty last month, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Friday the country was abandoning plans for ratification. He said he now sees his earlier support for the deal as a mistake.
"I was wrong," he said at a news conference.
Tusk also said he sent a letter to the European People's Party, a center-right group in the European Parliament to which his Civic Platform belongs, appealing for it to not back ACTA in its current form.
His announcement came after Slovenia's government also said Friday that it is halting the ratification of ACTA.
"This agreement is obviously not a matter of understanding, but of major misunderstanding," Education Minister Radovan Zerjav said.
So far around 20 countries have signed the treaty, a key step before ratification. Six European countries have now backed away from it -- Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, which signed it but says it needs more time to analyze the deal.