Germany Stalls on Signing Antipiracy Treaty

Rhett Pardon

BERLIN — Germany won't sign an international antipiracy treaty after the justice ministry voiced concerns, despite having already agreed to it in principal.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), initiated by the U.S. and Japan, seeks to protect intellectual property rights, “including infringement taking place in the digital environment.”

It was signed by the European Union and 22 of its 27 member states in January, while Germany said at the time it too would sign.

Latvia also put off signing on Friday. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already delayed ratification.

The treaty, yet to be ratified by the European Parliament,  has been the subject of protest by those who say it will require signatory countries to punish even noncommercial breaches of copyright with criminal prosecution and jail terms.

Those claiming to act on behalf of Anonymous have even attacked official websites supporting the international agreement.

And thousands are expected to take part in protests throughout the continent of Europe on Saturday, reports say.

Meanwhile, Canadians are protesting proposed Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11) that could make it illegal to break digital locks on electronic content or devices.  

Canadian protests are being scheduled to be held in Montreal, Edmonton, Regina and Moncton, according to reports.

Both the EU and Canadian measures have been compared to the Stop Online Piracy Act, the U.S. proposal that targeted content piracy with the potential to block websites. Public outcry in the U.S., however, managed to kill SOPA.

Pictured above: ACTA protesters two weeks ago in Germany.

Related: