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.
“It is incomprehensible how longer copyright terms could possibly help create new works when many artists already have copyright for longer than they are alive. Other works are already protected for 50-70 years ensuring their irrelevancy long before the copyright runs out. It is merely large multinationals wanting to ensure their pockets will continue to be filled for the foreseeable future at the expense of consumers.”
“Copyright laws are already tilted too heavily in favour of rights holders and this secret treaty could be set to make it much worse. There is no intention of letting anyone other than a few large corporations in the USA see what is being proposed until the ink is dry and the shouting is done. We and others have continually demanded civil society be granted access immediately to ensure our rights are being protected. At this stage, Australia should withdraw from negotiations until such fundamental democratic requirements are meant,” he continued.
“The US negotiating team seems more cautious on pharmaceutical patents, making placating noises to the poorer countries who have the most to lose if generic medicines are no longer available. Pharmaceutical patents cost lives as the cost of medicine sky-rockets. While they are sounding more accommodating, it has to be noted there is no draft available to negotiators after the last version was completely rejected,” Mr Frew concluded.
Pirate Party Australia Secretary Brendan Molloy is currently attempting to obtain access to Australian negotiating positions through a Freedom of Information request. He has also asked the TPP negotiating team to clarify their position on copyright term extensions.
“It should be noted that the lack of transparency and accountability by the Australian negotiating team to their own citizens is disturbing to say the least,” said Mr Molloy.
Pirate Party Australia has been attending public briefings and an active critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement since 2011.
For a general overview of the TPP, see this infographic by the EFF.