How The TPP Is Trouble: Public Interest Explicitly Tossed In Favor Of Corporate Interests

from the sad dept

Michael Geist is counting down the days to when the TPP can first be signed in the US (February 4th) by going through and highlighting problematic aspects of the agreement. He’s started with the simple fact that the TPP’s intellectual property section is explicitly designed to favor corporations over the public. We’ve obviously discussed some of this ourselves, such as the fact that the only reference to things like the public’s rights (such as fair use) is to recommend that countries consider them, but when it comes to stronger copyright and patents, the TPP requires them.

Geist goes a bit further, looking at the history, noting that in early drafts, a group of countries including Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Mexico initially all supported objectives that emphasized the public’s rights as well as corporations’. But, with the final version, basically all of that went out the window, and almost entirely because of the US striking a hard line in the negotiations (with some help from Japan, who joined the TPP process a bit later than others).

Below were the originally proposed “objectives”:

The objectives of this Chapter are:

  • enhance the role of intellectual property in promoting economic and social development, particularly in relation to the new digital economy, technological innovation, the [PE: generation,] transfer and dissemination of technology and trade;??
  • reduce impediments to trade and investment by promoting deeper economic integration through effective and adequate creation, utilization, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, taking into account the different levels of economic development and capacity as well as differences in national legal systems; ??
  • maintain a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community in subject matter protected by intellectual property; ??
  • protect the ability of Parties to identify, promote access to and preserve the public domain;??
  • ensure that measures and procedures to enforce intellectual property rights do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade;??
  • promote operational efficiency of intellectual property systems, in particular through quality examination procedures during the granting of intellectual property rights.
  • the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.
  • support each Party?s right to protect public health, including by facilitating timely access to affordable medicines.

There are some pretty good points in that list. I especially like ensuring that intellectual property does not, itself, become “barriers to legitimate trade.”

But, you’ll notice basically none of that in the final version. Instead, the only thing that survived was one that, you guessed it, focuses more on the benefits to companies, than to the public:

The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.

It’s not a bad objective by any means, but it’s pretty naked without all the others listed above.

As Geist notes:

The objectives provision may not carry the same weight as positive obligations in the treaty, but they are important, reflecting the goals of the negotiating parties and providing a lens through which all other provisions can be interpreted. Canada and many other countries wanted to ensure that the lens promoted maintaining a balance between rights holders and users on all IP provisions. The exclusion from the objectives provision sets the tone for the IP chapter and highlights how user interests and the priorities of countries such as Canada were given limited weight within the final text.

All the more reason to question how this possibly benefits the public.

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Comments on “How The TPP Is Trouble: Public Interest Explicitly Tossed In Favor Of Corporate Interests”

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David says:

You don't understand capitalism

All the more reason to question how this possibly benefits the public.

It benefits the public through trickle-down morals.

It’s the same manner in which tax cuts for the rich benefit the poor. While the state can no longer provide benefits like education and health care for those raised in less fortunate families, they are recompensated by being able to cheer on their stinking rich ruling class rolling over that of less blessed countries.

It’s like the pot-bellied beer drinkers who proud themselves through the athletic feats of “their” football teams.

That’s the point of representative corporative capitalism: the representatives get filthy rich on behalf of their fans and the congressional cheerleaders shake their pompoms and wiggle their ample anatomy.

Non panem sed circenses! Aut Caesar aut nihil! Either you got what it takes, dirty little bagginses, or you don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

another step towards turning the Planet into a giant corporations where the people mean nothing and have nothing except the worst of things and when they go wrong, there will be no way to get the item replaced or repaired! all freedoms and privacy will be removed and human rights wont be anything except human wrongs, as far as businesses are concerned. but then what do you expect when all but the most wealthy will be able to do what they want and the rest of us will be nothing less than slaves!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’re going about this the wrong way though: the thing to point out is that those in power will be shackled by this just as much as everyone else: those at the top will no longer be in charge: the shareholders will be in charge, meaning that those in power, if they don’t behave like good little corporatists, will be sacrificed for the good of the corporation.

You can’t step on the little guy without opening yourself up to being stepped on a bigger guy.

I think this sort of logic is more likely to carry weight than “think of the little people!”

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

The shareholders are in charge of corporations like ants are in charge of an anthill. They are only following the scent of money. If that leads the corporation to plunder, ravage, and kill, that’s what will happen.

Shareholders don’t invest into stocks in order to be responsible for creating anything other than money. Which is rather silly since the ultimate value of money is for buying things other than money.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:


What industry will the final owner of the world be from? Hollywood, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, agriculture, some other tech? Unfettered consolidation will get us there one day. We will need to get closer to determine the final who candidates.

How about when? This century? The next? Anybody want to pick a decade?

Suomynona (user link) says:

Re: Consolidation

Unfettered consolidation will get us there [determining the final ultimate owner of everything] one day.

You know what? I’ve never done this, but I’m reminded of the story where kids put a bunch of cockroaches in a jar, shake it occasionally, and see which one is the final ultimate survivor.

That being said, I don’t know how they can tell one roach from another. Or, if all that matters is that you end up with the lucky “final ultimate winner.” And then what happens?

Hmmph…. I wonder why on Earth that specific visual sprang to mind? Comparing roaches to corporations — and here I thought they were people, just with more rights (or at least lawyers) than I.

(PS – I’m a capitalist, but the rules seem to have gone insane with government trying to regulate and control everything. And if we (vs ?them?) repudiate one “bad” law, won’t we end up doing them all? Or is that what bribery is for?)

David says:

Re: Re:

They will. Their corporate overlords will need to grease only about 4 congress members in order to have this put into an omnibus bill that will pass on a half-empty house.

There is too much money pointed at too few strategic points of honor. They cannot last. And they will not even try, except to bargain for more.

Leonidas was not an American.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This article is false

Whatever it is you be smokin’, please share.

Or you forgot your /s.

There is so little difference between the parties today, that they have no problem becoming the polar opposite of todays position if the other side makes a move to appease some group or other. Of course that other side then moves to be the opposite of…well the other side, but they are so close together that only a few words change in their respective platforms. That saves on printing costs too, which makes more money available for bribes, err contributions.

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