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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 2:23pm

    to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge

    Warning, this can be interpreted to mean companies, as customers only use technology and do not need to know how it works.

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

  2. identicon
    David, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 2:35pm

    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.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 2:35pm

    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!!

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 2:52pm

    Consolidation

    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?

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

  5. identicon
    Whatever (Parody), Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:03pm

    But the public shouldn't be invited to these agreements because then nothing will ever get done! How are corporations supposed to get what they want?

    /sarc

    and just to be clear, so that Whatever doesn't falsely claim that someone is impersonating him, this is a parody.

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

  6. identicon
    w, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:17pm

    Doesn't the Senate have to give an all-or-nothing Yes-or-No vote before the President can sign it? They've not done the vote yet, right?

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:21pm

    This article is false

    There is no way the Dems and Obama would support a corporate friendly trade agreement at the expense of the little guy. The Dems are for the little people and everyone knows that. Only the Repubs and Fox News are in the corporate pockets.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:33pm

    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.

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

  9. identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:34pm

    "question how this possibly benefits the public"
    Its so cute how you believe this had anything to do with... the public. You guys... the public... are just there to fund the whims of government aggression and politicians vacation homes. Other than that... just shut up... Consume... Obey.

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

  10. identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:35pm

    Re: This article is false

    "There is no way the Dems and Obama would support a corporate friendly trade agreement"
    Rated as funny. LOL that's a good one.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:37pm

    Re: You don't understand capitalism

    I like that "trickle-down morals" thing, except I don't want any of the morals those 'up top' have.

    But we have no need to worry, if trickle-down works for morals as well as Reagan's trickle-down economy did (does), we have nothing to worry about.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 3:44pm

    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!"

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

  13. identicon
    David, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 4:58pm

    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.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 5:08pm

    Re: You don't understand capitalism

    You forgot about the joys of returning home from foreign wars where you gleefully slaughtered the opposing corporate armies only to find the bank has taken your house, car and all your belongings even though they were all paid for.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Consolidation

    Taco Bell

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

  16. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), Jan 5th, 2016 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Consolidation

    Shoe industry, according to Douglas Adams.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 8:03pm

    I think this makes it clear that corporations view anything within the public domain as "competition" that they entittled not to compete with.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Consolidation

    Corporate lawyers

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

  19. identicon
    bdj, Jan 5th, 2016 @ 11:23pm

    Yawn... Actually no, YAWN! It's going to be signed regardless of all public objection. We reject bad legislation only to later accept it as part of a larger spending bill. Rinse, repeat. Nothing will stop the TPP from eventually becoming a thing in some form or another. So bitch all you like, the people in charge don't care...

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 12:50am

    selling your constituents into debt slavery down the line to fill your own pockets now.

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 12:53am

    Re: This article is false

    Yes because both parties proclaim their opponents are the devil while ignoring their members that do the exact same thing as the other side.

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

  22. identicon
    David, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 2:45am

    Re: Re: Consolidation

    Why would corporate lawyers want to own the world? A leech would not want to own a human since that would imply responsibilities and care and worries. Suck'em while they last and move on when they dry up. No need to get romantically involved.

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

  23. identicon
    David, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 2:52am

    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.

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

  24. identicon
    David, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: This article is false

    Just when you thought that a politician is merely someone who can talk out of both ends of his mouth, it starts smelling funny.

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

  25. identicon
    Suomynona, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 3:28pm

    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?)

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

  26. identicon
    Rekrul, Jan 6th, 2016 @ 3:37pm

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

    It doesn't. That was never the purpose of this agreement. It was always intended to benefit the corporations.

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


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