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EU’s Highest Court Asked to Rule on Global Anti-Piracy Treaty

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May 11 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s top court was asked to rule on the legality of a global anti-piracy treaty, delaying the region’s approval for the accord aimed at preventing counterfeiting worldwide.

The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm, asked the European Court of Justice to check if the agreement, known as ACTA, is compatible with EU treaties and the region’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, John Clancy, an EU spokesman, said in en e-mailed statement from Brussels today.

“The Court’s opinion is vital to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on whether ACTA harms our fundamental rights in any way,” Clancy said.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is intended to set global rules for cracking down on the pirating of copyrighted materials, including illegal file sharing on the internet. Protestors in Germany and other European countries have complained that the treaty may harm freedom of expression and information sharing online.

In addition to the EU, signatory countries include the U.S., Japan and South Korea. The accord needs to be ratified by all 27 EU governments before it can come into effect.

Germany’s government was at odds with national lawmakers over the ACTA agreement, the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper reported in February. Bulgaria refused to ratify ACTA in February pending a clear EU positon on the accord. Finland also postponed its final approval on the treaty until the EU had ruled, the government said in March.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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