The SOPA/PIPA Protest Shows Why There Needs To Be Complete Transparency With TPP

from the keeping-stuff-secret-is-simply-not-an-option dept

Lawyer Jonathan Band has written up an execllent analysis for why what happened with SOPA/PIPA (pdf) demonstrates why the Obama administration and the USTR in particular must be significantly more transparent when it comes to TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. TPP, of course, is the evil stepchild of ACTA. Rather than learning that excessive secrecy in ACTA was the wrong approach, it appears that the USTR simply determined that since it got away with being so secret with ACTA, it might as well double down and be even more secret with TPP. Not only that, but early reports and leaks from the ultra-secret TPP negotiations suggest that the USTR — once again acting as the MPAA and US Chamber of Commerce’s personal waterboys — was trying to shove in every bad idea that it failed to get into ACTA.

However, as Band notes in his paper, the problems with excessive copyright legislation that impacts the internet is becoming a big issue with the public, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Most of the paper goes through the specific problems of SOPA and PIPA, as well as the public’s response to the attempts by the MPAA and US Chamber of Commerce to push through such a ridiculously bad bill that would impact internet sites worldwide. It then uses that to explain why the USTR simply needs to be more transparent:

The transparency surrounding TPP must increase. If the public feels that the provisions included in TPP jeopardize the openness of the Internet, it will strongly oppose the adoption of TPP. To prevent this from happening, the negotiations concerning the IP chapter must become more transparent. Drafts must be made available online for public comment. The fact that in the past some trade negotiations have had little transparency is irrelevant. The SOPA experience demonstrates that a new era of public engagement in IP policy has begun

Furthermore, Band makes the point that the USTR (and any government, really) can no longer pretend that copyright laws are obscure laws that do not impact the public. The public has hopefully now clearly established itself as a very important — if not the most important — stakeholder in any debates around copyright issues going forward.

Internet users care deeply about its vitality. The overwhelming public opposition to SOPA and PIPA generated by just one day of online protests indicates that the members of the public will take strong and immediate political action to protect this medium which has become a central part of their lives at home, school, and work. IP, at least to the extent it intersects with the Internet, is no longer an issue of only narrow technical interest.

Finally, the paper makes it clear that, no matter how many times the lobbyists backing these bills and trade agreements like to pretend that they don’t impact US sites, that’s simply laughable, and the public knows it:

IP rules can have a significant impact on legitimate websites. The Internet democratizes commerce and communications. Platforms such as eBay or YouTube allow individuals and businesses of all sizes to reach large audiences and markets. But IP rules that place too heavy a legal burden on the platforms for user activities, as do SOPA and PIPA, will constrain the growth of this Twenty-First Century medium of trade and discourse.

IP rules can affect international trade. The Internet does not recognize national boundaries. IP rules in one country can affect the operation of websites in another country. SOPA and PIPA would not only impose liability in the United States on non-U.S. websites that may be legal in their host countries; they also would interfere with the operation of these websites in their host countries. Provisions like SOPA and PIPA would allow countries – and indeed, individual companies – to erect trade barriers without following multilaterally agreed procedures with notice and due process.

These points seem obvious to many of us. The real question is whether or not the administration and the USTR recognize it yet. The fact that it’s still been negotating the TPP agreement in secrecy suggests not. That it thinks it can get away with such blatant rent seeking for Hollywood interests, in the face of a public that is now paying attention to these issues shows an incredible disrespect for the public’s best interests. It’s a shameful statement on whose interests the USTR is really representing — and the nature of crony capitalism in the US government these days.

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Comments on “The SOPA/PIPA Protest Shows Why There Needs To Be Complete Transparency With TPP”

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iRobot the iPhone says:

Bow Down and Repent Ye Serfs

Everyone knows that only Hollywood produces content, and only a small fraction of humanity can create content. So the best thing to do is bow down to the feet of Lord Dodd, and plead with him to entertain us poor serfs, us woe-begotten cretins who do nothing more than slober and spittle, and thus worship Lord Dodd and his High Priests of Hollywood.

Al Bert (profile) says:

i ... ugh (facepalm)

Remind the administration that the SOPA/PIPA ordeal indicates that dealings on TPP should be more transparent. Remind them that the Internet cares.

I sure hope he was just writing to to everyone other than those involved, because they do this crap in secret because it allows them the luxury of acting without respecting the fact that the concerns of all other parties exist.

This is like reminding a murderer “That bloody knife in your hand indicates that you shouldn’t stab people because you might hurt them!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Hold Obama Responsible

This bad behaviour by USTR is being orchestrated by Ambassador Ron Kirk, the head of USTR, Obama appointee and one of Obama’s long-term great mates. Obama can be expected to defend Kirk until such time as Kirk becomes a threat to Obama’s own political survival. Kirk is wilfully refusing to comply with stated Obama policy with respect to transparency of government. So hold Obama responsible for the bad behaviour of Kirk. Ramp up the pressure on Obama and demand the sacking of Kirk. When Obama gets frightened, Kirk will be gone. The new head of USTR will then conform to Obama’s stated policy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hold Obama Responsible

Kirk’s doing exactly what Obama wants. Obama is nothing more than Hollywood’s lapdog. They write his paycheck…Dodd even said so! And if Obama wants more, he has to give them what they paid for… again, Dodd said so. But did Dodd’s Hollywood cronies bribe Obama… and people in Congress? That answer’s pretty obvious. You can go to look up the sponsors of SOPA/PIPA and it gives exactly how much the Music and Movie industries have “contributed” to their campaigns… That’s what’s on the books anyway. But we’ll never know anything for sure about bribery or misconduct, because of course, Obama’s going to ignore the petition to investigate Dodd, because it’s a ‘law enforcement’ issue, and they don’t do law enforcement. Really? How convenient. How completely under Hollywood’s thumb.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘The fact that it’s still been negotiating the TPP agreement in secrecy suggests not.’

it’s blatantly obvious, not suggested. eg, people kicked out of the hotel where the meeting takes place, not just refused entry to the meeting!!

‘shows an incredible disrespect for the public’s best interests’

and the public’s awareness and knowledge of what’s actually going on and who’s best interests are being catered for!

X-56A UAV (user link) says:

about the blog

Everyone knows that only Hollywood produces content, and only a small fraction of humanity can create content. So the best thing to do is bow down to the feet of Lord Dodd, and plead with him to entertain us poor serfs, us woe-begotten cretins who do nothing more than slober and spittle, and thus worship Lord Dodd and his High Priests of Hollywood.

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