Public opinion and interest group influence: how citizen groups derailed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

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Series Details Vol.21, No.8, September 2014, p1199-1217
Publication Date September 2014
ISSN 1350-1763
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The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which envisages stricter standards for the transnational enforcement of intellectual property rights, received strong support from business groups. Nevertheless, a campaign against the agreement that was initiated by a small number of citizen groups was successful in stopping its ratification in the European Union (EU). This result is puzzling because the anti-ACTA side controlled few material resources and should have found it difficult to have its voice heard on an issue negotiated at the international level. We explain the success of the anti-ACTA campaign by showing how interest groups managed to increase the public salience of the issue; how the increasing public salience motivated a growing number of interest groups to mobilize; and how the resulting dynamic made decision-makers opt against ratification of the agreement. The article advances scholarly understanding of the interaction between lobbying and public opinion and sheds light on the defeat of ACTA.

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