Witnesses at ongoing negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) in Singapore have reported that Disney has called for an increase in copyright terms, to the disdain of the unsurprised Pirate Party Australia. Like all previous rounds it is unclear exactly what is being negotiated, as the process is completely opaque.
Pirate Party Australia is opposed to Australia’s continued involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on the grounds that it is not being negotiated transparently, and leaked texts show strong pushes for stricter intellectual property regimes. Such provisions have been likened to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which Australia is a signatory to, but which last year was defeated in the European Parliament following massive protests across the European Union.
“Yesterday saw the first day of stakeholder negotiations of the latest round. Of particular note was a representative from Disney claiming that copyright terms needed to be expanded to protect its intellectual property, highlighting visits to Disney Land and being able to see IronMan 3 as reasons for longer copyright terms,” said Simon Frew, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia.
Pirate Party Australia recommends caution be exercised in regards to the establishment of a global digital market that would involve ceding sovereignty of data to the United States or other jurisdictions with poor data protection legislation and records.
The Party’s warning bells were triggered by an opinion piece from Jeffrey Bleich, US Ambassador to Australia, published in the Sydney Morning Herald two days ago. Mr Bleich’s opinion piece states that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) may be used to eliminate what he refers to as “cloud protectionism”.
“It’s alarming that they would be even considering such a thing, when the Dutch are currently wondering whether the US can access their confidential health records under the PATRIOT Act,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.
Stakeholders at a briefing held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) last Friday were told that the upcoming regional agreement, Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), would contain some intellectual property provisions similar to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
ACTA was rejected by the European Union earlier this year, and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has recommended against ratification until stringent criteria are met, including a cost-benefit analysis. Pirate Party Australia made multiple submissions to JSCOT regarding ACTA.
The TPP will contain an intellectual property chapter cobbled together from various other free trade agreements and treaties, including the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), representatives of DFAT indicated when questioned. This is in direct contradiction to a 2010 recommendation by the Productivity Commission to seek to exclude intellectual property provisions from future bilateral and regional trade agreements (BRTAs), after AUSFTA introduced a net loss to the Australian economy.
“It is of great concern that we may see the reintroduction of ACTA-like provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which has been resoundly binned as a poorly formed agreement, starting with the EU rejecting it and continuing with JSCOT’s scathing review,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.
Pirate Party Australia is disappointed that Canada and Mexico will formally join negotiations for the flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) this week.
The Pirate Party has been very critical of the Agreement, particularly as there has been minimal engagement with the public – both in Australia and in the other negotiating nations – and only two draft chapters have been leaked.
“From these leaks, it is evident that at least some TPP negotiators are pushing for provisions that go beyond the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that was rejected by the European Union earlier this year, and which is yet to be ratified in Australia,” said David W. Campbell, President of Pirate Party Australia. “While the Pirate Party movement internationally has been one of the key opponents to ACTA due to its overreaching copyright and patent enforcement provisions, what is worrying about the TPP is that it is being conducted in near absolute secrecy making it difficult for concerned groups to offer criticism. When drafting international agreements, the citizens of those nations involved have a right to consultation, which must include access to draft texts.”
Pirate Party Australia sent an email to DFAT in June to ascertain what provisions will be included in the Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement. Today, two months later, we received a response.
It states that AJFTA will include an intellectual property chapter, and as per usual, have decided to keep all negotiations completely secret.