The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) marked the rise of a new lobbying power. Although traditionally, international trade negotiations have been state-centric forums, public opinion can no longer be ignored when negotiating agreements that include intellectual property rights as a topic of discussion. In the aftermath of the ACTA negotiations, civil society actors were lauded for their successful citizen mobilisation and online advocacy. Indicative were street protests of thousands during the Polish winter. ACTA was heavily criticised for its lack of transparency and fundamental rights safeguards, especially in relation to data privacy. Similar concerns have arisen in on-going discussions on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union. Is it possible to include a diverse stakeholder group in a negotiation process without suffering significant delays in its progress?

ACTA is also illustrative of an on-going political economy struggle over knowledge creation and information control. The arguments brought forward by stakeholders in the ACTA debate were not new: the devastating harm of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement, the necessity of IPR enforcement for economic growth, the value of the Internet for democratic and societal participation, and the importance of fundamental rights. Underlying these arguments are conflicting views on the role of copyright and the Internet to foster innovation and creativity. Opponents of ACTA feared that the multilateral agreement would be used to circumvent existing international and domestic legislation that balances IPR against other rights and exceptions. Can we find a middle ground between protecting rights and providing access to knowledge and culture in trade negotiations?

This chapter contributes to improving the societal acceptability of trade negotiations on the one hand, and intellectual property rights on the other. It is important to note at the beginning of this chapter that the topic is approached from a Eurocentric point of view. The core of the chapter elaborates on democratic governance and political economy of intellectual property literature, and analyses the views of interested stakeholders on democratic process and balancing of rights in ACTA. It also includes a preliminary analysis of stakeholder views on these topics in the context of the on-going TTIP discussions (sections 2 and 3). The chapter concludes with lessons learned on improving popular legitimacy in international trade negotiations including intellectual property rights (section 4). First however, the chapter provides a brief overview of the ACTA and TTIP negotiations (section 1).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrans-Atlantic data privacy relations as a challenge for democracy
EditorsDan Svantesson, Dariusz Kloza
Place of PublicationCambridge
ISBN (Print)9781780684345
StatePublished - 19 May 2017

Publication series

NameEuropean Integration and Democracy Series

ID: 31813432