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"Hello democracy": Acta dealt deathblow, finished for good thanks to EU

A controversial agreement purporting to help efforts to curb digital piracy has been vetoed by European MPs following a vote in the European Parliament.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) was overwhelmingly rejected earlier today, after attempts to delay the decision amounted to nothing. In total, 478 MEPs voted down the deal, with 165 abstentions and only 39 politicians registering approval.

"It's time to give [this agreement] its last rites," said British MEP David Martin, of the Scottish Labour party.

Twenty-two EU member states, including the UK, had signed the legislation prior to today's failed ratification, with the agreement being international in its scope and enjoying support from a range of countries including the US, Canada, Japan, and Australia.

The EU said that it remained committed to fighting piracy, but that its overriding responsibility was to reflect the interests of Europe's residents.

"European citizens have raised these concerns and they have the right to receive answers. We must respect that right," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said.

The Acta was highly contentious, with critics claiming it would infringe on freedom of expression in the digital world and likening it to America's divisive Stop Online Piracy Act, commonly shortened to Sopa.

The UK's Pirate Party was among those to campaign vigorously against the Acta, with leader Loz Kaye one of those quick to claim the decision as an important victory for democracy.

"The European Parliament vote is a triumph of democracy over special interests and shady back-room deals," Mr Kaye said in a statement.

He added that he was glad political decision makers had "listened to the millions" of people who objected to the Acta, putting forth that it was becoming "increasingly politically poisonous to be 'anti-internet'."

The vast majority of politicians appear to have agreed, with some of those in attendance at the vote unfurling "Hello democracy, goodbye Acta" banners as the decision was announced.

It is seen as the final deathblow for Acta in its present form, with the rejection vote by the European Parliament making it the sixth consecutive body to rubbish the treaty.

Britain's government is also under fire on home soil as a result of domestic legislation being proposed to address issues in the e-world.