The Trans-Pacific Partnership: ACTA’s evil twin?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) is similar to ACTA, in that it is a multilateral agreement which has a variety of effects on Intellectual Property (IP) law; some of which could have serious consequences for the Internet. The TPP started life back in 2005, with only Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore entering into the agreement; since then, global economic powers such as the U.S., Japan, and Australia have all entered the negotiations, highlighting the serious and possibly universal consequences of the agreement. Much like ACTA, the TPP was drafted behind closed doors, is supported and influenced by powerful interests, and has been kept out of limelight for sometime, however, with further negotiations coming up shortly, it’s worth analysing just how bad the TPP could be.
According to Canadian Professor of law Micheal Geist, TPP is: “[E]verything [the U.S.] wanted in ACTA but didn’t get.” Of importance is how the agreement will strengthen the U.S. ability to clamp down on others, Professor Geist explains that the TPP agreement will give the U.S. an ability to export its harsh copyright laws on other countries that sign the agreement, and allows the U.S. to amend its own domestic laws concerning certain IP provisions. Additionally, the agreement creates: “[L]egal incentives for [Internet] service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorised transmission of copyrighted materials.” As well as demanding that Internet service providers deny web access to all who repeatedly infringe against the draconian copyright laws. However, the agreement doesn’t stop there, and according to the senior editor of Ars Techina, Nate Anderson, it will:
“[P]rovide a “making available” right to copyright holders, such that simply offering a file through BitTorrent would be grounds for a lawsuit even if no one downloaded the file… And all countries must set up a process to identify Internet users for any ISP, going beyond US case law.”
Wikipedia also notes that the agreement could impose a legal regime stricter than that of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and the U.S Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), requiring criminal enforcement even if there might not be a copyright infringement.
Unfortunately, the TPP agreement hasn’t been given the attention that it deserves, with such harsh and sweeping powers to regulate and reform the way IP is managed, and also how ISP will be effected, it should be as well known as the controversial ACTA and PIPA bills in the U.S. The usual organisations and groups have voiced there concerns regarding the TPP agreement, and many Congressmen in the U.S. have also dissented against TPP, especially on how restrictive the agreement is, with regards to the IP of medicines. Else where in the world, legal experts in New Zealand had a conference expressing their concerns over how the agreement would negatively effect Maori culture, and genetically modified products; Japanese commentators are also worried that the agreement would harm Japan’s unique Manga industry, and damage part of their culture.
Overall, the TPP agreement is another way for governments and big business to push through draconian laws to try and regulate and punish those who maximise the Internets full potential. If the culture of cyber-libertarianism is to continue into the future, then such agreements need to be pulled out of the shadows by the public, and scrutinised in every possible way.
Further Reading and Watching: