TPP Will Override Five Years Of Democratic Discussion About Software Patents In New Zealand
from the desperate-for-a-deal,-any-deal dept
The latest news is that the supposedly “final” round of TPP negotiations has failed to produce an agreement, although some “technical” discussions seem to be continuing on the side in an attempt to overcome at least some of the remaining differences. Despite the fact that negotiators are claiming that most of TPP is finished, there are no signs that the corresponding text will be released, which means that people have to fall back on leaks to find out what is being negotiated in their name.
Recently, WikiLeaks released an important, if rather outdated, TPP letter concerning state-owned enterprises (SOEs). If that thinking is reflected in the current text, it could have major ramifications for state-owned broadcasters in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Less high-profile than the WikiLeaks document on SOEs, another leak is nonetheless equally dramatic. ZDNet reports that as part of the TPP deal, New Zealand has sacrificed its new law banning software patents:
[President of the New Zealand Open Source Society Dave] Lane said leaks of the negotiating position show that at one point only Mexico was holding the line on software patents and New Zealand appeared to have already conceded.
The implication is New Zealand’s new software patent law, passed just two years ago, will need to be reversed if the TPPA is inked.
As Techdirt reported, the issue of whether software should be patentable was fiercely debated in New Zealand for over five years. After engaging in this open, democratic debate, the New Zealand parliament finally passed a new law on software patents in 2013. And now, if the leak is correct, that hard-won law will be simply discarded without the slightest public discussion — once the TPP text is published, it can’t be changed in any way, so there is no option to remove specific measures from it: it’s all or nothing.
Lane went on to echo a point Techdirt made about TPP a couple of years ago:
if New Zealand hobbles the domestic software market by adopting US strong IP, strong patent and copyright terms, then we are effectively “killing in the cradle” an industry that is projected to soon surpass dairy.
Strong IP, he said, was used by incumbents to block innovation and competition from would-be competitors and disruptors.
A strong software industry offers a weightless export that allows New Zealand to rise above the commodity fray of dairy, meat production and timber.
In other words, desperate to sign up to the TPP agreement, however bad, the New Zealand government seems willing to sacrifice 21st-century growth for the sake of shoring up 19th-century industries — and to ride roughshod over democracy along the way. So much for the common but bogus claim that trade agreements like TPP or TAFTA/TTIP will not require laws to be changed.