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More than 30,000 Germans turn out against anti-piracy treaty ACTA

ACTA, a controversial international anti-piracy agreement that has riled up Europe, brought out huge crowds in Germany and split top government officials. 

By Correspondent / February 13, 2012

Protesters shout slogans during a protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Sofia, Feb 11. Protesters gathered in several European cities Saturday to voice anger at an international copyright treaty that they fear will lead to censorship on the Internet.

Valentina Petrova/AP

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Berlin

Tens of thousands of Germans have protested against ACTA, a controversial international anti-piracy agreement that has embroiled Germany's politicians in a heated debate on whether the treaty is a useful tool to protect intellectual property or an infringement of personal freedom. 

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On Saturday, people turned out in droves for demonstrations all over Germany, in spite of temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The biggest protests took place in Munich, where about 16,000 people took to the streets, and in Berlin, with 10,000 participants. Police estimate that all in all more than 30,000 demonstrators turned out in German towns and cities. The organizers of the protest put the number closer to 100,000. 

According to the Associated Press, protests took place in other European countries as well, including Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, France, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania. The German protests were by far the largest, though, due at least in part to the pulling power of a rather new political force.

“The German citizens have had enough. They don’t want their civil rights reduced based on the wishes of the content industry,” says Aleks Lessmann, spokesman for the Pirate Party, which organized the weekend protests. 

ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is an international treaty aiming to set global standards in the protection of intellectual property. It has been signed by 31 countries so far, among them the United States, Canada, Japan and 22 European Union member states. Critics argue that the treaty is infringing civil and digital rights.

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