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Germany stalls over ACTA treaty ratification

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Germany has become the latest, and more economically important, nation to place a hold on ratification of the controversial ACTA treaty.

The government said that it had decided to hold off on signing ACTA after concerns were raised by the Minister of Justice over the need for the treaty. The government has said it will now wait until after the European Parliament has voted on its ratification this summer before making a decision. Germany joins Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia in refusing to ratify ACTA, which was signed by most member states last month at a ceremony in Japan.

"The EU must now decide whether it needs ACTA," said the German minister of justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, De Spiegel reports. "This must be approved by the European Parliament.”

Thousands of people, in an estimated 200 European cities, are expected to protest about plans to introduce the controversial ACTA plans on Saturday, over (some say over-hyped) fears that it will harm the sharing of data and impose overly stringent regulation. The European Commission, which negotiated the terms of the deal, has sought to counter fears with a guide to public misconceptions about the treaty, but there is no sign of the pressure diminishing.

Anti-copyright protest is very much the flavor of the month, after the similar legislation SOPA and PIPA in the US was put on hold. Academics editing Elsevier’s scientific journals have also gone on strike, in part over the company’s support for the Research Works Act, which would stop open publication of federally funded scientific research.

The focus will now move to the European Parliament, which will debate full ratification of ACTA. French European Parliament member Kader Arif, who resigned in protest at the ACTA signing, has warned that right wing MEPs are trying to rush the treaty through without proper oversight, and urged parliament to reject the entire thing, effectively killing it for other international signatories like the US, Japan and South Korea. ®

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