If TPP Is So Important, Why Are Those It's Supposed To 'Help' Fighting Against It?
from the because-it's-not-about-helping-them dept
But the real problem is that the USTR doesn't pay much attention to actual innovative business: entrepreneurs and startups that are doing much of the important work today that will be important for the future. Instead, they tend to only listen to the last generation of companies: the legacy players and behemoths who are looking to protect themselves against competition and innovation. So it was great to see during this week's TPP negotiations (though held in even more secrecy than usual) the EFF presented negotiators with two important letters about different aspects of the TPP, signed by the organizations that the USTR would like to pretend its helping -- and yet those organizations are not at all happy about it.
The first letter, signed by dozens of internet and technology companies, warns about dangerous intermediary liability concerns based on the leaked draft of the TPP's intellectual property section. We were among those that signed this letter. We'd prefer to comment on the actual draft of what's in the document, but the USTR still keeps that as a closely held secret (unless you happen to be an RIAA lobbyist, then you have full access).
The provisions regarding intermediary liability are particularly concerning. We are worried about language that would force service providers throughout the region to monitor and police their users' actions on the internet, pass on automated takedown notices, block websites and disconnect Internet users. Irresponsible righsholders can burden intermediaries with many thousands of automated takedown requests every day, using systems that operate with little or no human oversight. These systems rely on a "takedown first and ask questions later" approach to pages and content alleged to breach copyright.The second letter comes from a large group of libraries, public archives, authors and educators, decrying the possibility of copyright term extension being enabled by the TPP. It's hard to argue that librarians and public archivists are "freetards" and "digital anarchists." These are folks who are legitimately concerned about the impact of excessive copyright on knowledge.
Burdening these service providers with these new liabilities could also add new costs that may be passed onto Internet users. These automated systems have also led to many forms of legitimate speech being taken down, even when they are protected under fair use... We oppose any kind of proposal for an enforcement regime that could lead to a "notice and staydown" system, where there is little to no recourse for users to challenge takedowns and restore removed content.
The public domain provides an immense social and economic benefit to all sectors of society. Through the public domain, in conjunction with today's affordable communications technologies and networks, access to knowledge is available to even the most impoverished members of the community. The public domain also spurs the creation of popular and valuable new derivative works, both commercial and non-commercial. For example, the spate of recent Sherlock Holmes spin-offs was made possible by the passage of that property into the public domain, as recently affirmed by a US court decision.One would hope that the USTR is actually willing to listen to these organizations most directly impacted by the rules it's trying to force in through the backdoor known as international trade agreements. Unfortunately, it often seems tuned only to the voices of legacy industries looking for greater protectionism. Still, the more that organizations speak up, the more the USTR may finally be forced to listen. The EFF is still allowing more companies and organizations to sign onto both letters. You can do so on the intermediary liability letter or the copyright term extension letter at each of those links.
The most immediate threat to this invaluable resource would be the extension of copyright terms by another 20 years, adding to the TRIPS minimum term generally of life plus 50 years. Despite wide divergence on other issues, almost all contemporary economists are in agreement that copyright term extension makes no sense.