PIJIP Research Paper No. 7: ACTA, Fool - Explaining the Irrational Support for a New Institution

Throughout September, PIJIP will release a series of Research Papers on ACTA.  The series is available at http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/research/

Gabriel Michael
PIJIP Research Paper No. 7
September, 2010


The key players in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations were driven to establish a new institution for intellectual property enforcement because the traditional venues for such matters, the WTO and WIPO, had become inhospitable forums. Yet given the significant division in U.S. domestic economic interests over ACTA’s provisions and the lack of solid theoretical or empirical evidence supporting claims made by proponents of the agreement, it is puzzling that ACTA has commanded the support of the U.S. executive, even across two administrations from opposing political parties. I show why this support cannot be explained as a result of the aggregation of domestic economic interests, or as a result of rational policymaking. I then argue that an irrational but captivating “policy paradigm” better explains the support of the U.S. executive.


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