Yesterday, Wikileaks published a draft of the
intellectual property chapter of the secretive and controversial
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
This document is the first full chapter to be leaked. The TPP is
billed as a free-trade
agreement that will prepare the US and 11 other Pacific-rim
nations. This leak gives clearer insight
about how far-reaching and potentially damaging this agreement,
which the Obama Administration hopes to hammer out by the of the
year, could be. Here are some of the worst features discovered
in the Intellectual Property chapter.
1. Loose Language Means Worse
Laws: Earlier this week, Reason contacted
Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst with Cato, regarding the TPP.
Having read prior leaks, he cautioned that “the problem is, a lot
of [TPP] rules are very vague.”
The newly released document shows the same trend. Addressing how
this group of nations will deal with everything from copyrights, to
domain names, to Internet service provider liability, and even
the language throughout this 95-page chapter is dangerously broad.
Governments have enough trouble reconciling technology and the law
in a productive way, and allowing a centralized body of authority
to make sweeping, international decisions is a poor foundation to
remedy that issue.
2. You Don’t Really Own Your Phone…Or Any Electronic
unlocking your phone has been illegal for nearly two decades in
the US, legislators have been working this year to do away with the
Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The TPP would
crush these efforts and extend the same bad legislation abroad.
The draft states
that the 12 nations would “provide adequate legal protection and
effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective
technological measures.” This means that despite having paid for an
iPhone or Xbox One, you would not legally be allowed to tinker with
the device, because the TPP would make it illegal to tamper with
manufacturers’ digital locks that prevent you from from changing
carriers or share copies of your video games.
3. Copyrights and Cronyist Collusion: It’s
no secret that CEOs from the Recording Industry Association of
America (RIAA), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America (PhRMA), International Trademark Association (INTA), and
voiced their support for the TPP in an open letter to Obama.
Luckily for these large copyright holders, the agreement would
extend copyright terms up to 100 years after an author’s death and
as much as 120 years for unpublished corporate works.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
explains that “such bloated term lengths benefit only a
vanishingly small portion of available works, and impoverish
the public domain of our collective history,” and points
out that “the U.S. will see no new published works enter the public
domain until 2019.”
Compounding this problem, the TPP intends to make service providers liable for
copyright-infringing material that they host. This would
essentially force Comcast, Time Warner Cable, others to become
private Internet police not just for the U.S. government, but for
all 12 countries in the agreement.
4. The U.S. Government is the Leading the
Charge: The draft lets readers see where nations
disagreed about terms of the agreement. Thus, we know that the US
pushed for 120-year copyrights, Chile opposed the idea, and
Australia and others proposed 70-year terms. This is consistent
throughout. More than any other, it is the US government that
pushed in favor of stricter rules and regulations. Peter Peter
Maybarduk, a director at the advocacy group Public Citizen,
said it’s “the Obama administration’s shameful bullying” that
dominates the TPP negotiations. The EFF lauds the “numerous heroic
proposals for fixes, most notably from Canada and Chile” to strike
down the US’s “dangerous provisions.”
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/14/tpp-five-worst-things-found-in-the-wikil