Questions about ACTA typically follow a familiar pattern – what is it (Part One of the ACTA Guide), do you have evidence (Part Two), why is this secret (Part Three), followed by what would ACTA do to my country's laws? This fourth question is the subject of this post, Part Four of the ACTA Guide. The answer is complex since the impact of ACTA will differ for each participating country: some will require limited reforms, others very significant reforms, and yet others (particularly those not even permitted to participate) complete overhauls of their domestic laws.
That is not the answer that the participating countries have been providing. Instead, most have sought to dampen fears by implausibly claiming that ACTA will not result in any domestic changes in their own country. With that in mind, we get:
- the European Union stating "ACTA will not go further than the current EU regime for enforcement of IPRs"
- the USTR maintaining that ACTA will not rewrite U.S. law
- Australia's DFAT confirming they do not expect to see major domestic changes to Australian law as a result of the ACTA
- New Zealand stating "ACTA will not change existing standards"
- Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement assuring the House of Commons that ACTA will be subservient to domestic rules
Of course, if all of this is true, skeptics might reasonably ask why ACTA is needed at all. The truth is that ACTA will require changes in many countries that ratify the agreement. The EU Commissioner-designate for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier, recently acknowledged precisely that during hearings in Brussels. Meanwhile, U.S. lobby groups have stated that they view ACTA as a mechanism to pressure Canada into new copyright reforms.