After SOPA And ACTA, Now TPP Starts To Fall Apart

from the good-and-getting-better dept

What an extraordinary year this has been for Net activism. After the great SOPA blackout led to SOPA and PIPA being withdrawn, and the anti-ACTA street demonstrations triggered a complete rethink by the European Parliament that may well result in a rejection of the treaty, now it seems that the Trans Pacific Partnership is falling to pieces.

Foreign Policy magazine, for example, has a feature entitled Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Foundering?, where its author explains that a number of the smaller countries participating in the negotiations are starting to ask themselves whether there are any advantages in joining at all:

Of even more concern, however , is the sudden questioning by the Chileans of the value of the deal as presently being constituted. Chile had been considered a slam dunk supporter. So its raising of questions is a red flag danger signal. Beyond that it seems that the Malaysians are also questioning whether any benefits they may be getting are worth the trouble of further liberalization of their domestic economy. And just to put the icing on the cake, it is becoming ever clearer that the Vietnamese, whose economy resembles that of China with large segments controlled by state owned companies, are going to have great difficulty in actually meeting the high standards being proposed.
As Techdirt has reported, TPP has been negotiated in the utmost secrecy, but now that word is finally leaking out about its provisions, there is resistance building in the US:
Although the deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has received relatively little media attention in the United States, it has sparked international friction among consumer groups and environmental activists who worry that terms demanded by the Obama administration will eliminate important public protections. Domestically, however, the deal's primary source of political tension is from a portion that could ban "Buy American" provisions -- a restriction that opponents emphasize would crimp U.S. jobs.
That seems like a pretty significant issue. After all, one of the supposed aims of the trade agreement is to remove such internal barriers to trade for all signatories. But in an election year, President Obama will hardly want to be painted as someone who is sacrificing American jobs.

Even assuming this major contradiction is resolved somehow, and the other Pacific Rim countries don't decide to abandon the treaty altogether, TPP is still fundamentally flawed for the same reason that ACTA is flawed: China is not a signatory. And the idea that once TPP (or ACTA) is in place, China will suddenly rush to sign up is extremely unlikely, for reasons that Arvind Subramanian, an expert in Chinese economic policy, explains:

"China would never agree to just fall in line with rules in the negotiations of which it has not participated," he writes in a policy brief.

If China did agree to participate in the talks, it would have huge bargaining leverage. Better to have multilateral talks where China’s power is diluted by the addition of Brazil, Europe, India and others to the talks.

A third possibility is that China comes to view the TPP as a hostile effort to "encircle" China economically. "TPP could thus provoke China into playing the regionalism game in a way that could fundamentally fragment the trading system," he writes.
However you look at it, TPP seems to be in serious trouble. Coupled with the withdrawal of SOPA, and the possible rejection of ACTA, this represents a string of setbacks for copyright and patent maximalism that a year ago would have seemed impossible.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Alana (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 10:30pm

    Good riddance.

    Trans-Pacific Partnership?

    More like Trans-Pacific Ownership.

     

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      gorehound (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      +1
      Toilet Paper Pricks in US Government.Nothing like my Nation being the Bully and trying to force our versions of Law across the Planet with no Respect for the people in other Nations.Nor do these Corrupted Officials respect our own people and its workers.
      Two Fingers up in the Air to my Great Government.Keep on rocking guys and within ten years you may yet live to see yourself tarred & feathered.

       

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      blah, Jun 3rd, 2012 @ 2:58pm

      Agreed.

      I agree. How sad is it that Vietnam is now more reasonable than America when it comes to IP? Oh, right, it's not about IP it's about arresting every dissenter in this country.

       

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    Pixelation, May 7th, 2012 @ 10:36pm

    I am truly excited that my representatives are failing on this one. Whoever you are, I hope I voted for you!

     

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    A Guy (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 10:55pm

    *scratches head*

    Was this designed so no politician could ever vote for it and be re-elected?

    *scratches head*

    This is either entirely incompetent or a semi-brilliant Machiavelli plot to hold onto power.

    It is entirely possible that the administration gave into every asshole demand from the lobbyists so everyone would recognize it as a corrupt abortion that could never be passed. That would keep the lobbying dollars flowing and keep the public from being harmed.

    It is also possible that the disregard for environmental concerns could be a plot to degrade the environments of any competitor nations insane enough to fall for the trap and thereby make them less competitive in the future.

    However, all this could also be explained by massive boneheaded incompetence the likes of which is rarely seen in a living creature. It all seems like a little too much though. Someone had to know this could never pass.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 2:12am

      Re:

      Actually, I'd say it's most likely that the politicians involved simply got blindsided by the public.

      Pretty much up until last year, when SOPA/PIPA/ACTA really started getting the internet, and all the countless people really involved and able to actually affect politics, these sorts of things were pretty much slam dunks, guaranteed to pass.

      Up until that point sure you'd get a group or two that would raise concerns about a bit of legislation, but for the most part the politicians could safely ignore them.

      Very much contributing to that was the fact that the ones pushing for legislation were pretty much the only ones who could comment on something; there really was no opposing viewpoint presented unless another politician put one forth.

      Thanks to the large, and growing involvement of people, largely driven and facilitated by the internet, people are actually starting, for quite possibly the first time in decades, if not centuries, to be able to actually affect politics as it's being shaped.

      Why else do you think a lot of governments these days seem to be doing all they can to hobble, if not outright control or destroy the internet as it is now?

       

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        Pixelation, May 8th, 2012 @ 4:06am

        Re: Re:

        "Why else do you think a lot of governments these days seem to be doing all they can to hobble, if not outright control or destroy the internet as it is now?"

        Exactly why I'm glad to hear the TPP is failing. The more other countries follow the US on policy the easier it will be to control the internet. I believe my representatives have gone too far already with IP laws, no need for the world to follow blindly along.

         

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        A Guy (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

        Re: Re:

        That was the massive boneheaded incompetence option ;)

         

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    Jonathan, May 7th, 2012 @ 11:54pm

    TPP deserves to fail

    In an age when more people are connected than ever before, these secret treaties where major corporates (especially big copyright) get privileged access to the negotiating table deserve to fail.

    The US is trying to export a maximalist copyright agenda that has zero benefits for the average citizen.

    New Zealand has pending legislation to eliminate software patents, and a major review of copyright scheduled for 2013, both of which are threatened by TPP.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 1:56am

      Re: TPP deserves to fail

      (especially big copyright)

      Please don't start pulling a bob, one person adding 'Big' before everything is bad enough.

       

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        The eejit (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 6:29am

        Re: Re: TPP deserves to fail

        I think it should be renamed to Big IP (or bip for short). Cause the sound is going from bip to biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip.

         

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 7:50am

      Re: TPP deserves to fail

      Before we start into "Big" copyright we'd do well to remember that it's copyright that enables the licensing that keeps open source open and creative commons licenses valid.

      That said, some parts of ACTA and, I'd assume, TPP would seem to threaten those licenses though I can't say for sure. Some of the legal mumbo jumbo appears to read that way. As both appear to be failing I'm thinking no one need panic about any of it. The only ones who need panic should ACTA and TPP fail are copyright trolling lawyers and corporations. (Hello there SCO!)

       

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    Opera FTW, May 8th, 2012 @ 12:40am

    Dear UK residents

    Your Internet being censored by the Commie Copyright Cartels? Then just use http://www.opera.com/

     

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    Seegras (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 2:42am

    The ugly face of Mercantilism

    This is what the TPP (and ACTA for that part) is all about.

    Reinstating of Mercantilism.

    It's been going on for decades of course, but these are the newest, most blatant attempts.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 4:36pm

      Re: The ugly face of Mercantilism

      In many respects that's what this is. One could argue that government sanctioned monopolies are mercantilism by another name, that particular rose smelling just as awful.

      I'd argue as well that any company that is "too big to fail", at least by government standards and statements is already at the mercantile level. If, by that, you're thinking of certain bailed out banks you'd be right. That, of course, leads to a longer discussion of the banking deregulation fad of the 1990s and early part of this century which isn't exactly on topic. ;-) Not too far off but not quite there.

      TPP is facing a lot of resistance not just because it's a bad deal for everyone outside of the United States, Britain, France and Germany but by who ISN'T there. Canada, bless us, wasn't even invited. Brazil and India are but like ACTA they'll ignore what they don't find advantageous and use it as a stick on others while China isn't at all interested.

      Negotiating a trade deal in this decade without China present and actively taking part is on the same level of idiocy as trying to do the same in the 1970s without Japan present. Even if, at the end of the day some kind of mercantile heaven is reached.

      The country closest to that now, and doing very well by it, is China. They're not interested in others joining thier club of one particularly when the membership in the club means rules the Chinese find don't fit them. Worse, if China comes to believe (understand would be closer to the truth) that TPP is a weapon to use against them by trying to cement certain market players and states in place in ways hostile to Chinese development.

       

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    BeeAitch (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 3:49am

    Chinese attitude toward ACTA:

    “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”

    -Ancient Chines Proverb

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2012 @ 4:49am

    and considering what that idiot Mike Rogers, the CISPA sponsor, has just been accusing China of, i very much doubt that it will ever be on board, let alone any time soon!

     

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    Lorpius Prime (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    So conflicted...

    I really hate to see free trade coming into conflict with free expression this way. TechDirt may have convinced me to oppose this whole treaty, but if it falls apart over protecting something as asinine as the "Buy American" laws I'm going to yell a string of curses that will probably get me investigated under CISPA.

     

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    Chilly8, May 8th, 2012 @ 5:13am

    There are other reasons TPP is falling apart as well. One of them being the hue-and-cry about American jobs being shipped overseas. That argument along is going to make TPP a much harder sell.

    TPP might still pass, but it is going to be a much harder sell in Congress.

     

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    Michael, May 8th, 2012 @ 5:22am

    If only they were as fanatical about creating jobs as they are about shoving their copyright agenda in everyone's face.

    Pretty ironic that the same industries who whine and moan about all the mysterious jobs being lost are in actuality attempting to harm the local economy:
    "Domestically, however, the deal's primary source of political tension is from a portion that could ban 'Buy American' provisions -- a restriction that opponents emphasize would crimp U.S. jobs."

     

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    Michelle, May 8th, 2012 @ 6:29am

    Re: TPP

    I don't think Techdirt is telling the whole story here.

    "As Techdirt has reported, TPP has been negotiated in the utmost secrecy, but now that word is finally leaking out about its provisions, there is resistance building in the US..."

    -When the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the President's trade agenda, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated that they Office of the Trade Representative "had over 350 public consultations with Congress alone, and many more with our stakeholders." He also added that the Obama Administration disclosed that they were negotiating much faster than any previous administration. This hearing was likely broadcast on CSPAN (cable television), webcast on the Senate Finance Committee's website, and the transcripts are surely available online. The public had multiple ways to access Kirk's testimony on this. That does not sound secretive to me.

     

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      The eejit (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 6:33am

      Re: Re: TPP

      Bollocks. When there have been known and documented cases of deliberate misleading of public interest groups about ther times and dates of the "conferences" so that shills are the only ones there, that's plain old bollocks.

      I would trust Ron Kirk about as much as I'd trust Romeo with Thibalt's inprisoning.

       

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 7:36am

      Re: Re: TPP

      It's great that they did consultation and admitted they were rushing and all, but that's still not really transparency. Public stakeholders can't get their hands on a copy of the document - so sure, they can go and say what their hypothetical concerns are, but they can't actually get the information they need to really make their voice heard as part of the process.

      The negotiation documents and TPP drafts aren't being released. Only the final treaty will be. Everything else (other than the public consultation you mention - a grain of sand in the desert of TPP negotiations) will be sealed for four years. And the memo saying they will be sealed will also be sealed. Stakeholders who have been graciously allowed to speak will have no way of knowing if their concerns were considered or if what they said led to any changes or attempts to fix the treaty. Basically they just get to speak their piece once, then sit around and wait to see what the final document looks like.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 10:28am

      Re: Re: TPP

      -When the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the President's trade agenda, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated that they Office of the Trade Representative "had over 350 public consultations with Congress alone, and many more with our stakeholders." He also added that the Obama Administration disclosed that they were negotiating much faster than any previous administration. This hearing was likely broadcast on CSPAN (cable television), webcast on the Senate Finance Committee's website, and the transcripts are surely available online. The public had multiple ways to access Kirk's testimony on this. That does not sound secretive to me.,/i>

      This was misleading at best (and close to flat out dishonest) by Kirk. The USTR has a bunch of "industry stakeholder" groups that are very secretive and only industry to a few industry lobbyists. There is no consultation with the public. Furthermore absolutely NO (read: zero) information has been provided about what the US is negotiating on the IP sections. There was a single leak from over a year ago on the US's positions, and that's it.

      To claim that's transparent is pure bullshit -- and Wyden called Kirk on it in that hearing.

       

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    Footnote, May 8th, 2012 @ 8:15am

    Fundamentally Binding

    _this represents a string of setbacks for copyright and patent maximalism that a year ago would have seemed impossible.

    It would not seem to be impossible if one can see how basically humans hate to be bound by regulations they don't support and further, cost time and money. To these maximalists, it must seem like they can bind whomever, whenever they want and they are willing to spends a lot of time and money doing it, but what happens in the end is a lot of costly regulation that only benefits a few.

     

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    Baldaur Regis (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Where are the pro-arguments?

    Where is the reasoning from those who support these bills? Or, more telling, from the sponsors of ACTA, PIPA, TPP and similar legislation? I've looked - extensively - and the only arguments I've been able to find boil down to the moral - that infringement is 'bad'. This is thin gruel for justifying legislation that reduces freedoms for individuals and makes criminals of ordinary citizens.

     

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      Shmerl, May 8th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

      Re: Where are the pro-arguments?

      Well, they are too ashamed to show the real arguments - i.e. hunger for power, domination and fear of free speech. So they just provide senseless mumbling about infringement.

       

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    cosmicrat (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    Don't get cocky

    Hey I'm as happy as anyone that these bad deals are being beat back, but let's wait to break out the champagne. This is a long term war.

    SOPA and PIPA are not dead. They are waiting in the shadows like evil undead zombies for the fall elections to be over. Darth Dodd has alluded to this, as well as comments in the latest IATSE bulletin (discoverable by Google search).

    Ever vigilant brothers and sisters.

     

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