The overnight release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’s draft intellectual property chapter has exceeded Pirate Party Australia’s worst fears. While the Party is yet to undertake a thorough analysis of the draft, there are already some provisions that are glaringly ill-considered.
Despite numerous assurances from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) the TPP would not require changes to domestic intellectual property legislation, the draft text indicates that substantial legislative changes would be required if the United States and Australia got its way. These changes may include the criminalisation of “significant willful copyright […] infringements that have no direct […] motivation of financial gain.”
“This corporate wishlist masquerading as a trade agreement is bad for access to knowledge, access to medicine, and access to innovation. It re-enforces the worst parts of our intellectual property enforcement regime on a regional level, making the necessary positive reforms for the digital era much more difficult, if not impossible,” said Brendan Molloy, Councillor of Pirate Party Australia.
“It is absolutely appalling that we are still relying on leaked texts to determine just what we’re getting ourselves into with these trade agreements. Even Parliament is being kept in the dark. It’s time to release the text, and all future texts, so that transparency and oversight can result in texts that help, not hinder, legitimate Australian interests. There is no economic justification for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’s intellectual property provisions. DFAT must immediately hold public briefings to explain their now public negotiating positions. It’s time for some accountability.”
The Australian delegation is attributed with the minority in many cases, often siding with the US. The current text would require the accession of all parties to several other intellectual property agreements in order to be a member of this agreement, endangering any future positive reform efforts due to layering of treaties. The US is pushing for pharmaceutical provisions that the Australian delegation is standing against.
The text sees copyright terms being reaffirmed, with Mexico pushing for life plus 100 years, and Australia pushing for life plus 70. Pirate Party Australia does not believe it is necessary to include such provisions in a trade agreement. Limitations and exceptions are significantly overlooked, with very minimal content provided in any section, while provisions for penalties are detailed, onerous, and go beyond our current legislative framework.
The text requires the implementation of policies that would require an ISP to hand over subscriber information on the mere allegation of infringement, without requiring evidence. The text also attempts to introduce regional enforcement of country-code top-level domains (ccTLD) such that domain name registrations would be required to be public and the introduction of dispute settlement processes, to solve what is coined “trademark cyber-piracy” in the text.
The United States is also pushing for provisions that would ban the rebroadcasting of TV over the Internet.
For a detailed analysis of the content of the text, please see James Love’s article on KEI: http://www.keionline.org/node/1825
The leaked text can be found here: http://wikileaks.org/tpp