The EU Parliament has voted not to refer the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice (ECoJ), meaning the bill's final fate will be decided this summer.
In a 21 to five vote, the European Parliament's international trade committee ruled not to stall the final decision on the controversial anti-couterfeiting proposal. The decision has since been welcomed by activist groups.
"[Today's vote] demonstrates a growing understanding of ACTA's issues by a wide range of MEPs, and an ability to avoid the procedural traps set up by the EU Commission and some pro-ACTA MEPs," said Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of citizens group La Quadrature du Net.
"It is a promising step, but only the final rejection of ACTA will settle the issue."
Jérémie Zimmermann, also of La Quadrature du Net, added, "The Commission and the rapporteur's tricks have been avoided, and the Parliament can now proceed with its works on ACTA. MEPs will have to shed light on the democratic and political issues raised by ACTA, such as the extra-judicial measures aimed at stepping up the repression of online sharing."
ACTA was intended to harmonise copyright rules across all participating countries, but it has resulted in a series of high profile demonstrations, including ones in Poland.
The vote follows widespread allegations that the agreement could potentially breach EU human rights legislation, granting companies the ability to censor the internet.
"The concerns with ACTA centre mostly around how the bill enforces liability on websites for any links that point to disputed content," Trend Micro security analyst Rik Ferguson told V3.
"In the world of user-generated content, the potential for any site to be forced to close down, in a Stalinesque way to become a ‘non-site' as it is obliterated from search results or even have its domain name seized, all as a result of the actions of its users, is seen as too great a threat to business online."
Had the committee vote today gone the other way, MEPs would not have been able to vote on ACTA until the ECoJ had reached its decision, potentially delaying the vote by at least 18 months.