USTR's Weakass Response To TPP's IP Chapter Leaking

from the *cough*-bullshit-*cough* dept

We already wrote about the leaking of a recent draft of the IP chapter of the TPP agreement — almost two years since the previous leak. While we’re going to have some more posts digging deeper into many of the horrific problems with the agreement (and how it was created), first I just wanted to note — and to respond to — the USTR’s weakass response to both the leak and the outcry that has surrounded it:

The intellectual property negotiation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions has not been completed and a final text has not been agreed to. We are working with Congress, stakeholders, and our TPP negotiating partners to reach an outcome that promotes high-paying jobs in innovative American industries and reflects our values, including by seeking strong and balanced copyright protections, as well as advancing access to medicines while incentivizing the development of new, life-saving drugs.

So much bullshit in so few words. As per usual, this is the USTR at its most obnoxious and dismissive of legitimate concerns. First, while technically true that the agreement has not been completed, that doesn’t mean that (1) there aren’t substantial portions of it that are complete and (2) it does not show the US’s (and others’) negotiating points and positions on various important issues. To try to dismiss the concerns by arguing it’s not complete yet ignores that we finally know what kind of pure crap the USTR is trying to shove down the throats of the American public, which they’ve worked on for years in secret.

Second is the claim that they are working with “Congress, stakeholders and our TPP negotiating partners.” Again, let’s define those carefully. First, “working with Congress.” No, not really. As we’ve described, the access Congress has is incredibly limited. The USTR is willing to work with a few members of specific committees but when others, such as Senator Ron Wyden, sought access to the TPP documents they were greatly limited. And Wyden is not just any Senator, but the head of the Senate’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness.

While he, personally, was able to go to the USTR’s offices to see the document, he would only be able to see it alone in a room. He would not be able to make any copies or take any notes. More importantly, he would not be able to bring any of his staffers who have direct technical expertise on the language — such as the staff director of that committee, who had the necessary security clearance. Think about that for a second. The USTR claims that it works with Congress, and yet it denied access to the document to the staff director of the Senate’s subcommittee on international trade. How, exactly, is that “working with Congress”?

As for the “stakeholders,” there are different kinds of “stakeholders” here and none of them are the American public. The USTR has Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs). These are representatives of legacy industries. Take a look at the list of industries represented. Where are the current innovators in that list? You won’t find them. What you find is a big list of last century’s industries — the legacy players who are more interested in protectionism and blocking competition than in innovation.

Now, let’s look specifically at the members of the “Intellectual Property” ITAC. It’s all companies or trade groups which represent big, old, legacy players, who have strong interest in protecting their position, not in innovating and disrupting. The RIAA. GE. Johnson and Johnson. Verizon. The Executive Director of the “Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights”? Really? Could they put together a more biased group of people? Doubtful. Who on that list is looking out for the public interest? Who on that list is looking out for innovators? The answer is absolutely no one.

That group is the main “stakeholder” that the USTR is referring to. They get much greater access to the negotiating texts than most of Congress does. Then there’s a second class of “stakeholders” which the USTR pretends to involve in the process. These are the “civil society” and public interest groups — folks like Public Citizen, KEI and EFF — who have been working hard to raise the concerns of the actual public and society. The USTR doesn’t share crap with them. Nothing. Literally nothing. What they do is every so often, if there is time and space permitting, let those groups hold “stakeholder meetings” in which they can present their arguments to the negotiators.

The USTR pretends this is “transparency” and “working with.” It is neither. Transparency is about sharing the details of what the USTR is doing in order to get feedback. Every so often “listening” to concerns of people who don’t know for sure what’s in the document is not transparency, and it’s hardly “working with” those stakeholders. Is it really any surprise at all that when the only stakeholders who matter, the IP ITAC, all represent legacy industries that what comes out from the USTR is a bloated piece of crap designed to protect their interests against the rights of the public?

Third, the idea that the end result of this process is designed to “reach an outcome that promotes high-paying jobs in innovative American industries and reflects our values.” Again, that’s not true. Which “innovative American industries” are actually represented on that list? Biotech, maybe, but the rest are all legacy players holding onto their markets, not creating economic growth. That doesn’t promote high paying jobs — it lets companies block out real innovation, slow down growth and limit jobs.

Fourth, “including by seeking strong and balanced copyright protections.” Ha! First off, nothing in the released text suggests any look towards “balanced” copyright protections. It’s entirely about locking in the worst of the worst, making an end run around Congress to block any potential future copyright reform that would fix many of the problems of today’s copyright law. TPP is a time bomb designed to subvert real copyright reform. Just the fact that the statement itself argues that “strong” copyright protections are necessary for “balance” suggests that the USTR is not only biased, but totally clueless about the state of copyright law today. Over and over and over again, we’ve seen that real innovation comes from allowing much greater flexibility and user rights — not in ratcheting up enforcement and restrictions on innovation. Yet that’s what the USTR gives us.

Finally, “incentivizing the development of new, life-saving drugs” may be the most sickening, disgusting and dishonest claim of them all. Whoever wrote this statement should look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves, seriously, how many people they personally are helping to die. The patent portions of the TPP will kill many, many people by guaranteeing that they cannot possibly get access to life-saving drugs. The USTR is parroting the blatant lies of the pharmaceutical industry, who falsely argue that they need strong patent protection in order to “incentivize the development of new life-saving drugs.” But there is little evidence to support this, beyond the whining complaints of the pharma industry. Most of the actual discoveries today are really done by universities and other research institutes, often funded by federal grants. It’s only late in the process that the pharmaceuticals come in and grab the patents and then seek to focus on which drugs will be most profitable — not which will save the most lives.

This is why the USTR and the rest of the administration fought so hard against revealing this text all along. They know that their arguments are weak excuses for legacy players seeking blatant protectionism and against the public interest and the interest of actual innovation. The former USTR, Ron Kirk, specifically had stated that if the text of the TPP were public it would make it very difficult to approve, and now we know why. Because it’s the worst form of political cronyism by the USTR, giving lots of favors to legacy industries at the expense of the public. When the USTR is unwilling to be transparent or have an open and full discussion with the public, it is not representing the interests of the American public. It is trying to pull a fast one on us.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “USTR's Weakass Response To TPP's IP Chapter Leaking”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
out_of_the_blue says:

So many words about "So much bullshit in so few words."

Mike is the kind who when steps in it, doesn’t just wipe it off his shoe and go on, but rubs it between fingers and takes a taste to make sure. It’s useless detail.

Mike doesn’t quite get to condemning globalism and corporatism, just vaguely targets “pharma” and takes a jab at “legacy players seeking blatant protectionism”. — But this isn’t even protectionism (of which I’d approve), it’s intended to destroy (particularly US) industries other than the few mega-corporations. — The overarching view is that TPP is globalist corporatism designed to remove the last of sovereignty; all three of those goals are bad for We The People. There isn’t any magic by which ever-larger scales of gov’t or corporatism or wealth makes those less than evil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So many words about "So much bullshit in so few words."

“Mike is the kind who when steps in it, doesn’t just wipe it off his shoe and go on, but rubs it between fingers and takes a taste to make sure. It’s useless detail. “

Considering you do exactly the same with your useless detai that you post you can have a report vote. click.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Take a look at the list of industries represented. Where are the current innovators in that list? You won’t find them.”

Aerospace Equipment
Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health Science Products and Services
Energy and Energy Services
Information and Communications Technologies, Services, and Electronic Commerce

“What you find is a big list of last century’s industries “


one day your going to say something that is backed up by some FACTS !!!!!!. (that will always be the dream)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

the parties negotiating the TTP call it a trade agreement therefore it is a trade agreement, if the US want the rest of the world to follow US copyright/patent rules the US needs to give up something, that something will need the government to change some law/rule, there will be a press conference announcing the law/rule change. I expect the change will be trivial, but it will be a big press conference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Sure you are. You’re affected by the (quality and price of the) product. If you don’t like it, you find something else to eat instead.

You honestly think there is a possible argument where the public isn’t a stakeholder in copyright/IP?

Copyright is something where we take away the rights of the public and grand exclusive rights to someone. In other words copyright affects the public as it’s them agreeing (sometimes against their will) to give up their rights for (the benefit of) society. If the ‘benefit’ becomes a burden (no longer worth it), then society will cease to be willing to give up that right. Hence they are both a customer and a stakeholder.

The minute you think the customer is not a stakeholder (or fail to treat them as one) is when you stop being an innovative business and start becoming a legacy player.

Anonymous Coward says:

the USTR is definitely trying to do this, ‘promote high-paying jobs in …American industries and reflects our values’

what about everyone else values? what about high paying jobs in other countries? when any other nation tries to do the same as the USTR, they are threatened! when is it going to dawn on other nations that all that is going on with this and other ‘negotiations’ is ways for USA industries to benefit from everywhere, while everywhere suffers as a result. on top of that, the USA is still trying to take over the world, particularly the internet. the nation that controls it will be in control of the world. these sort of ‘do what we tell you’ negotiations are gradually doing that because the USG knows it cant take it by force!

Anonymous Coward says:

USTR shouldn’t be able to bypass or overrule laws, passed by congress. Why does the USTR seem to have more authority than the national governments, themselves?

The USTR appears to be an “international government of corporations”. Seriously, it seems like corporations have created their own “international government” and have given themselves more authority than the national governments, such as American, China, UK and Russia.

Chris Brand says:

One really good thing

…is that the leak gives the negotiating positions of the countries involved. That means that the USTR can’t do what they wanted to do – bring back a signed agreement and say “well, we were forced to accept some stuff we didn’t like, but look at all the good stuff!” and deny that they were actually the ones that pushed for all the crap.

Now all you US voters (and Australians and Japanese) get to actually hold your government accountable for what it’s trying to do in your name.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Stakeholders

That the “stakeholders” are reluctant to inform the people that will foot the bill for these “trade agreements” is hardly surprising. The sole purpose is after all to transfer rights, power and money from the people to the beneficiaries of the “agreement”.
It would be a bit like a band of thieves that inform the victims of what they are about to do before they do it. The would be victims might get angry and try to defend themselves. Or at least lock their doors. Thievery is best conducted in the dark away from glaring lights and prying eyes.

“We are working with Congress, stakeholders, and our TPP negotiating partners to reach an outcome that promotes high-paying jobs in innovative American industries and reflects our values…”

Depriving poor people in developing countries of life saving medicines? Patenting the methods for performing surgery and saving the life of another human being?
The “values” reflected in this text of those who wrote it can be clearly seen.
It is the values of sociopaths.
It is the values of criminals.
It is the values of thieves.
It is the values of the morally corrupt.
It is the values of the boundlessly greedy.

As for the high paying jobs, I’m sure the negotiators, the lobbyists, the politicians feeding on “campaign contributions”, the robber barons at the top of the TPP connected corporations, and all the other “stakeholders” that have their snouts deep into the swill through, are very, very well paid.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...