If at First You Don’t Succeed Rename the Legislation and Try Again

What happens when you’re a power-hungry state that wants to offer up some terrible piece of legislation but the people keep expressing distate for the legislation? Rename it and try again:

Last week, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject ACTA, striking a major blow to the hopes of supporters who envisioned a landmark agreement that would set a new standard for intellectual property rights enforcement. The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals such as ACTA on behalf of the European Union, has vowed to revive the badly damaged agreement. Its most high-profile move has been to ask the European Court of Justice to rule on ACTA’s compatibility with fundamental European freedoms with the hope that a favourable ruling could allow the European Parliament to reconsider the issue.

While the court referral has attracted the lion share of attention, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports that there is an alternate secret strategy in which Canada plays a key role. According to recently leaked documents, the EU plans to use the Canada – EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which is nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions.

The article compares the two proposed treaties and it’s rather amusing to see how similar the language between the two is. Both treaties will effectively implement the same thing but ACTA was shot down so the promoters of the treaty had to do something, and that something was a quick name change with some minor language changes.

It’s nice to see that this kind of behavior isn’t restricted solely to the United States.