Revealed Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP

from the well-isn't-that-great... dept

Back in 2013, we wrote about a FOIA lawsuit that was filed by William New at IP Watch. After trying to find out more information on the TPP by filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and being told that they were classified as “national security information” (no, seriously), New teamed up with Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic to sue. As part of that lawsuit, the USTR has now released a bunch of internal emails concerning TPP negotiations, and IP Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement, to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.

What is striking in the emails is not that government negotiators seek expertise and advice from leading industry figures. But the emails reveal a close-knit relationship between negotiators and the industry advisors that is likely unmatched by any other stakeholders.

The article highlights numerous examples of what appear to be very chummy relationships between the USTR and the “cleared advisors” from places like the RIAA, the MPAA and the ESA. They regularly share text and have very informal discussions, scheduling phone calls and get togethers to further discuss. This really isn’t that surprising, given that the USTR is somewhat infamous for its revolving door with lobbyists who work on these issues. In fact, one of the main USTR officials in the emails that IP Watch got is Stan McCoy, who was the long term lead negotiator on “intellectual property” issues. But he’s no longer at the USTR — he now works for the MPAA.

You can read through the emails, embedded below, which show a very, very chummy relationship, which is quite different from how the USTR seems to act with people who are actually more concerned about what’s in the TPP (and I can use personal experience on that…). Of course, you’ll notice that the USTR still went heavy on the black ink budget, so most of the useful stuff is redacted. Often entire emails other than the salutation and signature line are redacted.

Perhaps the most incredible, is the email from Jim DeLisi, from Fanwood Chemical, to Barbara Weisel, a USTR official, where DeLisi raves that he’s just looked over the latest text, and is gleeful to see that the the rules that have been agreed up on are “our rules” (i.e., the lobbyists’), even to the point that he (somewhat confusingly) insists “someone owes USTR a royalty payment.” While it appears he’s got the whole royalty system backwards (you’d think an “IP advisor” would know better…) the point is pretty clear: the lobbyists wrote the rules, and the USTR just put them into the agreement. Weisel’s response? “Well there’s a bit of good news…”

In a follow-up email, DeLisi states: “I looked at the rules much more carefully over the weekend. There is no doubt, this is our template.” And then, of course, the rest is redacted:
It’s no surprise that this is happening. Of course when you have industry and government groups set up to be regular “advisors” on certain text (and there’s a big revolving door between the two sides), you’d expect the relationship to be chummy and sociable. And it shouldn’t be surprising to then see the USTR take the lobbyists “template” and stick it right into the agreement. That’s how all of this works, after all. But considering that the agreement is a secret agreement that the public and experts outside of those lobbyist “advisors” are not allowed to see, you have to wonder how it’s even remotely possible for the USTR to have a full and fair picture of what those rules are likely to do or the impact on the public.







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Comments on “Revealed Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”

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30 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If...

Because the industry has economic sensitive information in the exchanges or negotiation positions they don’t want out (competitive edge etc.). Congressmen can release the information by accident or on purpose.

Can’t trust anyone outside our team (USTR and the lobbyists) with such information. The public just don’t understand what is good for themself.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: If...

Though an observation made by Jefferson. It’s certainly played out that many people for various reasons don’t stay informed as to their best interests, and will vote against those interests regardless.

Hence, horserace voting (voting on the guy you think will win) and values voting (voting on the guy who promises radical change regarding a singular issue, e.g. abortion, gays, immigrants, etc.)

But I think most succinctly Jefferson noted the Obama is a Kenyan Muslim Terrorist crowd, though through the centuries it was cannibals, cultists and communists that people were compelled to vote against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Royalty system not backwards

You just have to use RIAA logic. When they tell an artist they are going to pay the artist a royalty that means that they will be the one’s keeping the money. So by saying that the USTR is owed a royalty they are simply stating that they deserve to make money off of it which is not surprising as they expect to make money off of everything, even the non-existent sales that they claim to lose due to piracy. It’s simply a theorem in Hollywood Math.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: No, no, no, you have it all wrong!

As an earlier Techdirt article tells it…

And so, now comes a very, very weird fight in Congress. With nearly all Democrats opposed to this bill even including the surprise change in position by Senator Chuck Schumer, we’ll have a situation where Congressional Republicans try and convince their colleagues to give President Obama more power, by removing the Constitutional authority from Congress, while Congressional Democrats push back against giving their own President that power. It’s a really weird fight in oh so many ways.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No, no, no, you have it all wrong!

“The Dems are for the little guys. Right? Or are they? Now I don’t know who to vote for.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to have more than 2 options? But that would be a lost vote right? Well let’s hope the US arrives in the 20th century to have more than 2 parties asap.

elias (user link) says:

I read it differently

When I read it, I don’t think he’s making a mistake about the royalty system. “Our” refers to the US side of the table: USTR + lobbyists on the same team. Implied is that there really is no distinction between the lobbyists and the USTR. The USTR royalty comment is saying the US side got its stuff word for word in the text of the agreement.

Not that any of this is comforting, especially when the USTR rep is learning the “good news” from the lobbyist, implying the USTR (or at least the rep dealing with this lobbyist) doesn’t actually know what it has negotiated for.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

Nigh Endgame

Whenever I read anything about these secret so-called “trade” “negotiations”, the same questions always echo over and over in my mind.

How the hell are these secret commercial deals; that affect huge swaths of the international public, legal?

Why are these businessmen allowed to write and impose laws that adversely affect not only the public in their own nations, but foreign public populations as well?

What ever happened to the parts of the USG that were supposed to protect the US public from career criminals, greedy billionaires, foreign crime syndicates and corrupt politicians?

Is there any part of the US legal system that has not been over-run by Organized Crime and the American Elite?

Anonymous Coward says:

‘how it’s even remotely possible for the USTR to have a full and fair picture of what those rules are likely to do or the impact on the public’

simple. they’re not in the least bit interested in doing anything at all for the public, the people that actually keep the various industries and companies going by purchasing their goods and services. all that these and every other ‘Trade Group’ is interested in is how much it can do to please everyone EXCEPT the public! as far as they are concerned, we are nobodies, not worth scraping off the shoes, until, obviously, we are wanted to rush out and buy something or put a ‘X’ in a certain place to keep the whatever it is afloat! what is really annoying about this sort of thing is that there will be ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL DON, NO COMPLAINTS, NO INVESTIGATIONS, NO TRIALS, BECAUSE IT ISN’T ANYONE FROM ‘THE PUBLIC’. IF IT WERE, THEY WOULD BE QUEUING UP WITH LAW SUIT AFTER LAW SUIT AND DEMANDING SENTENCES OF ‘LIFE +70YEARS’ FOR EACH OF THE TEN X DOZEN CHARGES LOBBED OUT!!

Anonymous Coward says:

“In fact, one of the main USTR officials in the emails that IP Watch got is Stan McCoy, who was the long term lead negotiator on “intellectual property” issues. But he’s no longer at the USTR — he now works for the MPAA. “

So will there be jail time for this (at least what should be) criminal activity. Because, certainly, this type of activity is way way more repulsive than infringement (which really isn’t unethical to begin with). But it’s perfectly OK for IP extremist hypocrites to engage in what’s clearly unethical and what should be criminal activities. But the moment someone infringes the government must waste tons of taxpayer money to stop it (though this isn’t really about infringement it’s really about competition and competing platforms).

Are these the type of people you want dictating right from wrong, wrongfully telling you that infringement is wrong so they can use it as an excuse to stop those that offer competing content distribution platforms? What they’re doing here, subverting democracy, is clearly more wrong than any type of infringement could ever be if infringement is even wrong to begin with. I certainly don’t care much for these morally bankrupt people that use the artists as the poster child for their ill gotten gain and their opinions of right and wrong should be taken very lightly because, clearly, they don’t care.

Karin Six says:

TPP

If the House has any decency, every elected official would walk out from voting on this issue for good citing “secret deals” as treason to the US.

On another thought… if corps are now people, how can they be granted more rights as all men are equal? Reminds me of ‘Animal Farm’ (Communism).

This should simply not pass for so many reasons. If it does, Rebus Sic Stantibus! How can things not change?

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