Could the EU Walk Away from ACTA, Redux

Two months ago, I posted the question on whether the EU might ultimately decide to walk away from ACTA given the ongoing battle over the scope of the treaty (the EU wants it cover all IP, particularly geographical indications, the U.S. wants it limited to copyright and trademarks).  Although the parties continue to indicate they expect to conclude ACTA later this month at the next round of negotiations in Japan, it is still fair to ask whether the treaty will include the EU.  As I’ve noted in posts this week (here and here), the U.S. continues to cave on many issues, leading to a text some are describing as “ACTA-lite” and which EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht today told the European Parliament was a least common denominator approach.

Notwithstanding the obvious efforts by the U.S. to strike a deal – both by caving on some key issues and pushing for a conclusion to the talks – bringing the European Union on side will not be easy.  First, the approval of Written Declaration 12 by the European Parliament, along with today’s contentious hearings, demonstrates that ACTA will face a real fight by the elected parliament once it concludes and receiving the necessary approvals are by no means certain.  Second, the EU continues to link scope of the treaty with its usefulness.  One observer of today’s hearing reports that de Gucht threatened to leave the negotiations if the scope and measures are not broad enough to meet European interests.  This means including geographical indications in the treaty.  From the U.S. perspective, however, this may be a line-in-the-sand issue since their inclusion would require domestic law reform, which the USTR has repeatedly promised would not be needed (and which sends the treaty to Congress in an election year).

Today’s tough talk from the EU may just be posturing in advance of the upcoming negotiations. It is certainly possible – indeed still likely – that a political compromise will be reached.  If not, the U.S. appears to have decided that Japan will be the last round of talks.  If that is true (and not more posturing), an ACTA without the EU remains a possibility.


  1. Un-Trusted Computing says:

    Complex and high-handed posturing to mask a hasty exit?
    The EU may be having second thoughts about this, or feeling the heat from their citizens (European are much better at taking their governments to task than North Americans)

    An educated guess would be they’re trying to foil the deal by putting in impossible clauses for the US to meet.

  2. ACTA dead?
    If this is true then ACTA is dead:

    Of course, Canada could still have it as a bilateral agreement with US. 🙂


  3. And the shoe drops …
    “including geographical indications … since their inclusion would require domestic law reform, which the USTR has repeatedly promised would not be needed (and which sends the treaty to Congress in an election year)”

    The political landscape in the US right now is explosive with resentment from the right. If this issue has to go to congress and comes out in the open it will be an incendiary the White House cannot afford.

    If the EU holds it’s ground on this issue then ACTA is dead. To go ahead with a treaty ‘lite’ without the EU would be just ridiculous and seen as so.

    Canada would be a fool to sign onto such a limited agreement giving away too much for too little. [note to self: don’t roll your eyes so fast, it makes you dizzy]

    I’m giving 3:1 odds that ACTA is heading for the dustbin … and good riddance.

  4. I think it all becomes a pretty tough sell if the EU isn’t on board. The chaos this creates with the other trade organizations is a big problem for little gain. And while the USTR loves to make Canada look like Shanghai on steroids from a piracy perspective they know deep down inside that isn’t the case. The idea of ACTA was to get a consensus amongst a fairly large block and then go on a trade war jihad against any one that didn’t sign on afterwards. With out the EU this really just boils down to the US vs the world. That will be a tough sell to the US politicians who thought they would get what ever they wanted and not have to give any thing up.

  5. EU – Extremists Union
    EU are just radical extremist pirates. They even have a Pirate’s Party. We’ll sign the treaty with US no matter what.

    Mr. More


  6. snore… wha? wazzat?

  7. >”They even have a Pirate’s Party”

    For the record so do we.

  8. ” …
    >”They even have a Pirate’s Party”

    For the record so do we. ”
    Yes but they only represent a handful of Canadian Extremists

  9. “Yes but they only represent a handful of Canadian Extremists”

    Oh, that’s right. If you don’t agree with a government policy, then of course you are an ‘extremist’.

    ex·trem·ist   [ik-stree-mist] –noun
    1. a person who goes to extremes, esp. in political matters.
    2. a supporter or advocate of extreme doctrines or practices.

    We all know Bill C-32 is so fair and balanced that any opinion otherwise meets the above definition 0_o

  10. wow
    So I’m an extremist? really?!
    No, I don’t believe you. Now stop name calling and present a rational argument, or go do something else.

  11. US Court of Appeals upholds EULAs – threatens digital resale
    Nate Anderson, of ars technica, reports that “The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today ruled on a long-standing case involving used software on eBay, and it came to an important decision: if a company says you don’t have the right to resell a program, you don’t have that right. Could this mean the end of the resale market for all digital content? Yup. But the court says it had no choice.”

  12. Licensing
    So what exactly is licensed? Because it would be interesting to know it in the context of music CDs. Is it sold and it’s yours or do you get just a license to listen to those recordings?

  13. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    cabbages and kings
    Just because a bunch of countries get together to negotiate a trade treaty does not mean that any of them have to actually sign on the dotted line at the end.

    If ACTA should fall apart perhaps the world could return to to the existing WIPO process.

    @Crockett ACTA does not need to go before congress, it is being done under an executive order, which means that ONLY the president need sign at the end. One reason I think for the ‘secrecy’. Most Americans who have even heard of it think that if it’s really Orwellian that Congress will stop it. But congress won’t even get a crack at it.

    re: Pirate Parties
    As I understand it, the Pirate Party of Canada exists to fight for sane copyright law. This seems to be the common denominator for all the Pirate Parties world wide. They don’t advocate flouting law but working within the system to fight for good laws, and fighting AGAINST bad stuff like the UK Digital Economy Act, Canada’s Bill C-32 and ACTA.

    The Pirate Party of Canada is now an officially recognized Canadian Political Party which says it will run candidates in the next election. At this point pretty much EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD has a pirate party working toward that. (The United States has TWO.)

  14. USTR team – balls with bluster
    @Laurel “ACTA does not need to go before congress”

    This is true unless it necessitates a change to American law, which apparently recognizing geographical indications will require. All the EU has to do is hold the line on this issue and the USA will have to fold as they cannot allow this to go through congress on a fragile bi-election year. I suspect this is the EU’s intention as it will save face for them and force the US to be the ones who ‘kill the bill’.

    I find it interesting that the Americans want to finalize ACTA without it having to change US laws while at the same time it will require significant changes to the domestic laws of the other signatories. Sad bully tactics .. fail.