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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  • identicon
    Michael, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:37am

    The good news is that based on past history, if TPP does manage to get approval, ContentID will immediately take it down for us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:40am

    Surprise?

    I fail to see how anyone can be surprised when the government put in place by the iron triangle of industry, finance, and military does what it's paid to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:41am

    If...

    If these lobbyists are cleared to read the text, why aren't all congressional aides cleared?

    If these lobbyists can compare the text to what they wrote, one presumes this is evidence they get copies. Why can't the congress members get copies?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 1:03pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: If...

        "The public just don't understand what is good for themself."

        A statement uttered by (and only by) every tyrant ever.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 10:25am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:41am

    "someone owes USTR a royalty payment."

    Because bribe is such an ugly word.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:19am

      Re:

      I likely depends upon which side of the triangle you sit.

      Paying side (possible ugly contingent on value received).

      Receiving side (probably not ugly contingent on value sent).

      Observing side (definitely ugly contingent upon relationships to either of the above).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      RealityBites, 9 Jun 2015 @ 9:06am

      Do whores get bribes?... I thought they got paid

      Or is it the pimps that get bribes? its all so confusing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:43am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:48am

    When the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many, eventually someone will burn the fscker down.
    Could this explain why all the paramilitary build-up to keep the people from standing up and saying No, fsck you, we don't agree now stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:48am

    While it appears he's got the whole royalty system backwards (you'd think an "IP advisor" would know better...)

    Give the guy a break. It is often really difficult to remember what side of the revolving door you are on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      You are being watched (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      I like to think that they hold onto the handle and run as fast as they can screaming "weeeeeeeee!" since they give no fucks about anything besides how much money they can make.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:03am

    Well, duh.

    Just to avoid confusion, I should clarify:

    Well, duh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:12am

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

    There is no way industry lobbyists wrote this law under Democrat rule. The Repubs are the only party beholden to corporate interests. The Dems are for the little guys. Right? Or are they? Now I don't know who to vote for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:59am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 2:34pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 2:39pm

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

        More than? It would be nice to have at least two options now, currently all we've got is two branches of the same gorram party, with minor differences of opinion being the only thing that separates them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    elias, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:52am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary Mont (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:55am

    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?

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:14am

    '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!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 12:44pm

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 1:19pm

    This is surprising to ANYONE?

    Given the USTR open door to corporations policy we should at least get money from this flood of corporate shills. How about $50 million per shill at the writing table?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 1:54pm

    Oh noes, the movie indurstry is in bed with the government? Whats next, all of their CEO's are jews and Israel is pushing propaganda via holywood?
    Dont make me laugh...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 2:36pm

    Shocked! Shocked!

    That this is happening! -Here is your bribe, Sir. - Thank you very much! No everyone look the other way.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Karin Six, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:04pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:47pm

    selling out their children's and grandchildren's futures to enrich themselves. Must be nice to have no sense of care for anyone but themselves.

    For the world they are helping to create won't be beneficial to anyone but those at the top of an oppressive government and/or the most wealthy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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