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Mass Protests In Poland Over International Copyright Treaty

1/26/2012 3:15 AM ET

Thousands took to the streets across Poland on Wednesday to protest against their government's plans to sign international copyright treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, claiming that the pact amounts to internet censorship and curbs freedom of expression.

Thousands took part in the protests staged in capital Warsaw and several other Polish cities and towns. Although the demonstrations were largely peaceful, violent incidents were reported in the city of Kielce. Several popular websites also shut down their services briefly to protest against the treaty.

However, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a news conference held Wednesday that his government intends to sign the ACTA in Tokyo on Thursday despite the ongoing protests and insisted that his government would not bow to "brutal blackmail."

Defending his decision to sign the pact, the Polish Prime Minister said there was enough time for public debate on the treaty before it was ratified by the parliament and signed into law by the country's president.

The ACTA is aimed at establishing international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights and covers music and books as well as products including pharmaceuticals and designer items. The pact has already been signed by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.

The ACTA has some similarities with the highly disputed Stop Online Piracy Act in the US, which was set aside by American lawmakers last week after popular websites including Wikipedia and Google suspended their services either fully or partially for a day in protest.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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