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Media Release: What, more secret treaty negotiations to change NZ’s copyright laws?

Posted on December 6, 2010

The fourth round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) starts in Auckland today. Nine countries are meeting to develop a free trade agreement covering a wide range of goods, but it looks as though the copyright maximalists are using it as an excuse to push their extremist position yet again.

The leaked New Zealand position paper clearly indicates that some participants are trying to push a "TRIPS Plus" agenda - an extension of the internationally agreed provisions in the WTO's TRIPS agreement. This agenda, as seen in the South Korean and Australian free trade agreements with the USA, typically includes "three strikes and you're out" Internet infringement laws, punitive minimum damages for copyright infringement, and would also limit access to currently available generic medicines.

Thomas Beagle, Tech Liberty, "New Zealand has already dodged the bullet of "guilt upon accusation" when section 92A of the Copyright Act was overturned, and then again when public pressure fixed the intellectual property provisions in the ACTA treaty. It looks as if the TPP is yet another attempt to push laws that sacrifice civil liberties for media and pharmaceutical company profits."

Transparency in Treaty Negotiation

The TPP negotiations are being held in secret with citizens of the countries involved not allowed to know what their governments are saying. The traditional model for negotiating trade treaties means that the citizens of the countries concerned only get to see the text of the treaty after it's finalised, making any public consultation a sham.

Just like with ACTA, information is escaping and NZ's position paper on intellectual property has been leaked. It shows that the New Zealand government opposes a further extension of intellectual property rights saying that the economic arguments to do so are weak.

David Zanetti, Tech Liberty, "We're disappointed that we're reduced to finding the NZ government's position through document leaks. Why can't these position papers be published for everyone to see? It's not like they're secret from the other negotiating countries."

Tech Liberty believes that the TPP and other similar treaties should be negotiated in public in the same way that UN treaties are. While countries can keep their negotiating bottom lines private, the papers and drafts should be published for others to see. ACTA was originally going to be a secret negotiation but it was leaked - and we ended up with a better treaty as a result. See our full article.

Thomas Beagle, Tech Liberty, "Openness and transparency helped fix the ACTA treaty, we believe that negotiating in the open would improve TPP too. People have a right to be consulted and for that consultation to be meaningful it has to happen before the text is finalised, not afterwards."

References

Tech Liberty article calling for transparency in negotiating the TPP: http://techliberty.org.nz/acta-vs-tpp-the-case-for-transparency-in-international-treaty-negotiations/

Articles about leaked NZ position paper on IP provisions (includes links): http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1012/S00046/leaked-paper-nz-us-rift-on-intellectual-property-in-tppa.htm

Link to NZ position paper (PDF): http://www.citizen.org/documents/NZleakedIPpaper-1.pdf

About Tech Liberty

Tech Liberty is dedicated to protecting people’s rights in the areas of the Internet and technology. We make submissions on public policy, help to educate people about their rights, and defend those whose rights are being infringed.

Media release: NZ government now filtering internet

Posted on March 11, 2010

The Department of Internal Affairs has admitted that the internet filter is now operational and is already being used by ISPs Maxnet and Watchdog. It appears that Maxnet have not told their customers that they are diverting some of their internet traffic to the government system to be filtered.

Thomas Beagle, spokesperson for Tech Liberty, "We're very disappointed that the filter is now running, it's a sad day for the New Zealand internet."

Media Release: Tech Liberty supports new copyright bill

Posted on February 23, 2010

New copyright infringement act fair and practical

23 Feb 2009
Wellington, New Zealand

With the release of the text of the new copyright bill proposed at the end of 2009 we finally see the end of guilt on accusation, and see in place a sensible and well reasoned process around protecting copyrighted material. The new text deals with the majority of the issues that Tech Liberty has been concerned about, restores due process and privacy for those accused, and spells out a fair set of obligations and responsibilities for ISPs in handling users who infringe on copyright via their services.

Media Release: Tech Liberty welcomes planned Section 92A revision

Posted on December 16, 2009

New section 92A of Copyright Act does a far better job of balancing civil liberties and copyright enforcement.

Commerce Minister Simon Power released a statement revealing an intended framework and policy to replace Section 92A of the Copyright Act. This section, meant to come into force this year, was suspended after a broad coalition of rights holders, ISPs, and stakeholders opposed the original vague and ill-defined wording.

Media Release: New Zealand has no place in anti-democratic ACTA negotiations

Posted on December 16, 2009

The Ministry of Economic Development refuses to reveal draft text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement at a briefing in Wellington today.

Ministry of Economic Development (MED) spokesperson George Wardle, at a briefing in Wellington today, said that they could not release the draft text of the treaty as all parties to the negotiation had agreed to keep it confidential. He also refused to say who in New Zealand they had consulted with and refused to reveal what New Zealand was arguing for. The Ministry of Economic Development is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade representing New Zealand's interests in the negotiations.