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The ACTA negotiations are important not only for the potential impact of the treaty itself, but for what they can teach us about the dynamics of intellectual property law-making and the structure of the IP treaty framework. This paper draws two broad lessons from the progress of the ACTA to date which, while not entirely new, can be understood in a new light by looking at the detailed development of the ACTA text: (1) that the global IP 'ratchet' is not inexorable; and (2) that the international IP treaty framework is very poorly adapted to developing exceptions. The relevance of these lessons for negotiators, scholars and advocates is also discussed.