The European parliament massively rejected a controversial global pact to battle counterfeiting and online piracy Wednesday, quashing any possibility of EU ratification.
Twenty-two of the 27 EU states as well as other countries, including the United States and Japan, signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in January but the treaty has yet to be ratified anywhere amid protests that it would curtail Internet freedom.
The parliament ignored European Commission pleas that the treaty was needed to protect the economic interests of companies hit by counterfeiting and online piracy.
Members voted by 478 to 39 against the pact, with 165 abstentions, ignoring a last-minute call by conservatives for them to wait until the European Court rules on its conformity with European Union law.
The run-up to the vote, which followed the line of every parliamentary committee consulted on the pact, saw hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate against ACTA and 2.8 million sign a petition decrying it.
Other signatories to the agreeement include Australia, Canada, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland.
The European parliament's rapporteur on ACTA, David Martin of Britain, acknowledged the importance of fighting counterfeiting and piracy, but he said the text of the agreement was too vague and hence threatened individual freedoms.