from the no-wonder-it-was-kept-secret dept
We’ve been waiting a long time for a major leak of the secretive TPP agreement, and thanks to Wikileaks, we now finally have it (pdf – embedded below). It’s long and heavy going, not least because of all the bracketed alternatives where the negotiators haven’t been able to agree on a text yet. Even though the draft is fairly recent — it’s dated 30 August, 2013 — it contains a huge number of such open issues. Fortunately, KEI has already put together a detailed but easy-to-understand analysis, which I urge you to read in full. Here’s the summary:
The document confirms fears that the negotiating parties are prepared to expand the reach of intellectual property rights, and shrink consumer rights and safeguards.
Compared to existing multilateral agreements, the TPP IPR chapter proposes the granting of more patents, the creation of intellectual property rights on data, the extension of the terms of protection for patents and copyrights, expansions of right holder privileges, and increases in the penalties for infringement. The TPP text shrinks the space for exceptions in all types of intellectual property rights. Negotiated in secret, the proposed text is bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine, and profoundly bad for innovation.
Although many areas are touched by the draft’s proposals — access to life-saving medicines would be curtailed, while the scope of patents would be extended to include surgical methods, for example — the effects on copyright are particularly significant and troubling:
Collectively, the copyright provisions [in TPP] are designed to extend copyright terms beyond the life plus 50 years found in the Berne Convention, create new exclusive rights, and provide fairly specific instructions as to how copyright is to be managed in the digital environment.
Here are some of the term extensions being proposed:
For the TPP copyright terms, the basics are as follows. The US, Australia, Peru, Singapore and Chile propose a term of life plus 70 years for natural persons. For corporate owned works, the US proposes 95 years exclusive rights, while Australia, Peru, Singapore and Chile propose 70 years for corporate owned works. Mexico wants life plus 100 years for natural persons and 75 years for corporate owned works. For unpublished works, the US wants a term of 120 years.
A more technical issue concerns the use of the “3-step test” to act as a further constraint on possible exceptions to copyright:
In its current form, the TPP space for exceptions is less robust than the space provided in the 2012 WIPO Beijing treaty or the 2013 WIPO Marrakesh treaty, and far worse than the TRIPS Agreement. While this involves complex legal issues, the policy ramifications are fairly straightforward. Should governments have a restrictive standard to judge the space available to fashion exceptions for education, quotations, public affairs, news of the day and the several other “particular” exceptions in the Berne Convention, and more generally, why would any government want to give up its general authority to consider fashioning new exceptions, or to control abuses by right holders?
That’s a good example of how TPP is not just trying to change copyright in favor of the maximalists, but also to rig the entire process in favor of strengthening it in the future. Here’s another one, where TPP wants to stop any return to copyright systems that require registration — something that has been suggested as a way of solving some of the problems that arise because of copyright’s automatic nature:
The TPP goes beyond the TRIPS agreement in terms of prohibiting the use of formalities for copyright. While the issue of formalities may seem like a settled issue, there is a fair amount of flexibility that will be eliminated by the TPP. At present, it is possible to have requirements for formalities for domestically owned works, and to impose formalities on many types of related rights, including those protected under the Rome Convention. In recent years, copyright policy makers and scholars have begun to reconsider the benefits of the registration of works and other formalities, particularly in light of the extended terms of copyright the massive orphan works problems.
As you would expect, TPP wants strong protection for DRM; but even here, it manages to make things worse than they are:
The copyright section also includes extensive language on technical protection measures, and in particular, the creation of a separate cause of action for breaking technical protection measures. The US wants this separate cause of action to extend even to cases where there is no copyrighted works, such as in cases of public domain materials, or data not protected by copyright.
This would make it illegal to circumvent DRM even if it has been applied to materials that are in the public domain — effectively, enclosing them once more. Finally, it’s worth noting that under the section laying down damages for copyright infringement we read the following:
In determining the amount of damages under paragraph 2, its judicial authorities shall have the authority to consider, inter alia, any legitimate measure of value the right holder submits, which may include lost profits, the value of the infringed goods or services measured by the market price, or the suggested retail price.
It’s exactly the phrasing that was used in ACTA, and which turned up in the recent free trade agreement between the EU and Singapore. That encapsulates well how TPP builds on ACTA directly, while the other measures discussed above show how it goes well beyond it in many respects.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that we now have a very recent draft of what is perhaps the most contentious section of the agreement. In the weeks to come, we’re likely to see many detailed analyses exposing just how pernicious this proposed deal will be for the public in the negotiating countries. The hope has to be that once they find out, they will make their feelings known to their political representatives as they did with SOPA and ACTA — and with the same final result.