Out ACTA-ing ACTA: All TPP Negotiating Documents To Be Kept Secret Until Four Years After Ratification

from the it's-a-secret-it's-a-secret dept

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has now been signed by several nations ? even if its actual status is by no means clear. But that doesn’t mean governments have finished with their trade negotiations behind closed doors. As Techdirt reported earlier this year, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is, in some ways, even worse than ACTA, and looks to be a conscious attempt to apply the tricks developed there to circumvent scrutiny yet further.

For example, like ACTA, TPP is being negotiated in secret. But that, apparently, is not enough: a memorandum has been signed that stipulates only the final treaty will be revealed at the conclusion of the negotiations:

The parties have apparently agreed that all documents except the final text will be kept secret for four years after the agreement comes into force or the negotiations collapse. This reverses the trend in many recent negotiations to release draft texts and related documents. The existence of agreement was only discovered through a cover note to the leaked text of the intellectual property chapter.

Not only that, but it seems that even the memorandum about secrecy is going to remain secret:

An open letter to Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser from unions, civil liberties, church, public health, development, environmental and trade justice groups has demanded the release of the secrecy document. The Green Party and Mana Movement have both endorsed the call.

The release of the secrecy memorandum was requested during the Chicago round of negotiations in early October. New Zealand lead negotiator Mark Sinclair has asked for responses from the other countries, but there is no guarantee they will agree.

In fact, if the ACTA negotiations are anything to go by, they certainly won’t, because the US won’t let them ? it blocked attempts by other negotiating parties to release ACTA drafts.

It’s not hard to see why the US wants to keep its dirty laundry private. Like the recently-signed bilateral trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, these treaties are incredibly one-sided, essentially giving the US media companies everything they are demanding in an attempt to prop up their dying business models through disproportionate copyright enforcement legislation around the world. The drafts would presumably make that much clearer.

Of course, that these US industries should seek such advantageous terms is only natural. What’s not so clear is why other countries continue to acquiesce, when the treaties are plainly bad for both their citizens and their own creative industries (although various Wikileaks cables give us a hint). A good first step in re-asserting their sovereignty would be to insist on real transparency as a pre-condition for trade negotiations with the US ? and no more secret memoranda about secrecy.

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Comments on “Out ACTA-ing ACTA: All TPP Negotiating Documents To Be Kept Secret Until Four Years After Ratification”

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45 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Blow Their Cover

If the non-US countries had any smarts, they would blow the secrecy at every chance they had. Copies of any and all documents would mysteriously show up on Wikileaks. Then they should say things like, “Well, it’s up on Wikileaks now, so it’s public.” When the US gets upset (which it will), then play the usual games. Minimize it. Laugh at it. Pretend not to understand why the US is upset. Demand long tedious explanations from the US. Stand on sovereignty. Cloak yourself in “the people have a right to know”. Say “we need a full public discussion before we could consider ratifying this”. Threaten to hold a referendum.

Lovely political point scoring fun can be had by all. What is the US going to do to retaliate? Kick them out? Say goodbye to any agreement. Trade retaliation? Crank up the whining about USA not playing fair.

Anonymous Coward says:

From what country does the most sought after software applications emanate?

Same question for the entertainment industries.

While this is not to suggest that the United States leads the pack in all areas, clearly it is the preeminent source of such products. It hardly seems surprising that those who create such products would prefer that persons in other countries not rip them off.

Joe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Indeed! How can we, the lesser denizens of society, bask in the glorious enlightenment of such a forward thinking and inspired work of global co-operation written by such majestic leaders of industry and government, if hidden where only a few should know it’s glory 🙁

If only they’d done this with the printing press, maybe the world would be a better place today!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Seriously, if nobody objected I would make it a propaganda item and use it to make me look good, but if it is uggly and nobody want to hear about it I would try to hide it so nobody gets mad about it.

This may be why people call you dumb you can’t even master the basics of social behaviour, I hope you are over 30 it is shameful not to know those things after that age.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While this is not to suggest that the United States leads the pack in all areas, clearly it is the preeminent source of such products. It hardly seems surprising that those who create such products would prefer that persons in other countries not rip them off.

Which has nothing to do with anything in the post.

Why even bring it up?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka4L0jGF_-Q

This video discusses the fact that much of our modern software that we take for granted was built partly thanks to the absence of (enforced) patents.

and Microsoft has copied FOSS software on many things, such as tabbed browsing (originating from Firefox) among many other things.

The question isn’t, should product makers prefer anti-competitive laws favoring them (of course they do), the question is, what promotes the progress more. IP should never be about preventing anyone from being ‘ripped off’ since no one is rightfully entitled to a government established monopoly to begin with, it should only be about promoting the progress and the general welfare. and the evidence suggests that we are better off without IP.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, I guess the first was an IE add on

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetCaptor

Though it was proprietary at first, it didn’t take long before it was freely released once its development stopped. Still, Microsoft freely copied the idea and it never implemented it until Firefox released it first, so IE likely copied it from Firefox. Yet MS has all sorts of patents that it never lets anyone else use.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And the world is confused why there are over 900 OCCUPY related protests in 82 countries.

And somehow the “leaders” think they can continue in the same fashion that lead us to this much public outcry against putting the “rights” of corporations so far above those of the people.

Not every OCCUPY protest is the same, but one can imagine one of the driving factors is the government ignoring the people they are supposed to represent.

The Logician says:

Logic clearly dictates that when such complete and long-lasting obscurity is sought, it follows that what it is intended to hide is not something those who seek it wish for the rest of the world to know of. Which means that it is not something beneficial to the world at large, otherwise it would not be hidden. Therefore, we must deduce that those behind TPP do not serve the public interest, but only their own. TPP, therefore, is not deserving of public support, and must be opposed and exposed.

Keith_Emperor_of_Penguins (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re wasting your time Spock. These are people that would deny technological advancement and social evolution, for their own backwards greed and selfishness. Their kind has been breaking technology and progress for centuries. They are the ones that burned books, destroyed libraries, killed mathematicians and philosophers. All to keep the status quo suited for their own needs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Trade Blockades

The USA can threaten, but can they deliver? Suppose they try to stop buying commodity X from NZ. Meanwhile, they are still buying from countries A, B, C, etc. Meet the lovely chaps called arbitrageurs. They buy from NZ, relabel it so that it appears to come from A, B, C, etc. and send it on to USA. Also, NZ is selling into an international market and there is an international price. Other customers will be happy to buy from NZ even if the USA will not. The trade just rebalances.

Politicians do not have nearly as much power as they think to stop sales between willing sellers and willing buyers. The arbitrageurs are out there looking for tiny price differences and making a profit by eliminating them. Have a look at the futile “war on drugs”. The price to the consumer has been forced up, but the international wholesale price is at record lows. That is for commodities which are allegedly totally illegal and should have no market at all. The drug traders get a good laugh out of it.

NZ should just stand on their sovereignty, do what they want, then scream loud and long when USA tries to retaliate. Make USA look like bullies and hypocrites. That will get a sympathetic hearing in a lot of places.

Ben Ash (profile) says:

History is written by the winners

I look forward to the day when governments start paying attention to what the people want. The rise of social networking is enabling peaceable demonstration in volumes not seen before.

I look forward to the day that anyone who helped pass such draconian laws restricting freedom of artistic expression and trampling on basic human rights is held as accountable for crimes against humanity as a war criminal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: History is written by the winners

> I look forward to the day that anyone who helped pass such draconian laws restricting freedom of artistic expression and trampling on basic human rights is held as accountable for crimes against humanity as a war criminal.

I am more modest. I look forward to the day they do not have the power to do that harm anymore.

Josh Taylor says:

Better call Microsoft and Apple no cut/copy/paste in their next version of Windows and Mac.

Next anti-piracy trade agreement will include.

– Criminalizing private acts of infringement in homes and in public.

– Require UK-style wireless surveillance cameras in homes around the world to monitor your everyday life with speakers saying “No”, “Stop that”, “That’s infringement”, “You can’t draw that”, “You can’t quote that’, etc.

– make it mandatory to have DRM-thought police chips in the brain to make sure you obey copyright, be silent, uncreative, unproductive and buy their products.

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