The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a proposed free trade and copyright agreement between Canada and the European Union.

The agreement was scheduled to be signed by the end of 2012, [1] however wrangles regarding policies on beef, as well as intellectual property, have delayed its inception. Again, there has been widespread criticism surrounding similarities between a leaked version of the agreement and ACTA. [2]


The EFF[3] and EDRi has accused the intellectual property section of CETA as 'almost identical to ACTA in several instances, including rules on enforcement of intellectual property rights, damages, injunctions, border enforcement, preserving evidence and criminal sanctions, while Article 23 defines all commercial scale copyright infringement as criminal.' A number of MEP's including UKIP's Nigel Farage have also spoken out against ACTA and CETA suggesting that CETA is trying to bring ACTA into legislation 'by stealth.' [4]

Through incessant pressure from rights groups, in October 2012 it was announced that CETA had been watered down.[5]

Recent Developments

In November, European Trade negotiators travelled to Ottawa to further clarify the issues surrounding the agreement before ministerial talks in Brussels (anticipated to be held 'towards the 20th).[6]

Similar Provisions: ACTA and CETA

Michael Geist highlights the similarities between ACTA and CETA[7], initially illustrating how the scope of each agreement is worded in exactly the same manner:

Each Party shall be free to determine the appropriate method of implementing the provisions of this Agreement within its own legal system and practice. Article 2(1) ACTA, Article 2 CETA.

Articles 27.4 of ACTA and 5.16(3) of CETA both surround the issue of ISP liability and both state:

A Party may provide, in accordance with its laws and regulations, its competent authorities with the authority to order an online service provider to disclose expeditiously to a right holder information sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for infringement, where that right holder has filed a legally sufficient claim of trademark or copyright or related rights infringement, and where such information is being sought for the purpose of protecting or enforcing those rights.

Allowing a provider to disclose information of a subscriber is massively problematic and the fact that the provision in CETA is the same as that of ACTA probed Jeremie Zimmerman to state that"The European Commission and the EU Member States governments are trying to impose repressive measures against cultural practices online. (…) This trend of sneaking repressive measures through negotiated trade agreements must stop."[8]

Article 8 of ACTA and Article 20(1) of the leaked version of CETA, both indicate the possibility of third party liability. Both state:

Each Party shall provide that, in civil judicial proceedings concerning the enforcement of intellectual property rights, its judicial authorities shall have the authority to issue an order against a party to desist from an infringement, and inter alia, an order to that party, or, where appropriate, to a third party over whom the relevant judicial authority exercises jurisdiction, to prevent infringing goods from entering into the channels of commerce.

Michael Geist states that such agreements will require a major shift in international law [9].

The mirroring of Articles 25 of ACTA and 24.3 (5)(b) of CETA have been debated as arguably the most concerning provision, allowing for:

The seizure of assets the value of which corresponds to that of the assets derived from, or obtained directly or indirectly through, the allegedly infringing activity.

This is a real concern as authorities can take items belonging to an individual at their choosing in order to address the potential infringement. It is clear that the valuation of such assets must be done independently to avoid the defendant losing more than he or she should.


Michael Geist reported that Karel de Gucht had removed the sanctions which mirrored ACTA from CETA. [10] He also commented that such actions should be met with caution because de Gucht has also admitted that the EU are under no illusions about the difficult issues in the trade agreement...I promise nothing. [11]

Stuart Trew commented upon Canada's positions in the negotiations, saying that Canada wants to finish CETA before February 2013 when the U.S. and EU are expected to begin their own comprehensive trade and investment negotiations. We’ve known from Day 1 the U.S. is Europe’s ultimate prize — Canada is just a stepping stone. [12]

This ultimately has brought suggestions that if Canada want the ACTA provisions in the agreement, then the EU may have to buckle to their demands in order to secure a trade agreement with the US.

Related to

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement