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We want a Fair Deal from the TPP

Posted on July 31, 2012

We've long opposed the USA's attempts to rewrite our copyright and other intellectual property laws through trade deals. Amongst other activities:

We're now pleased to endorse the goals of the Fair Deal campaign:

The Fair Deal campaign is about keeping the Trans Pacific Partnership from changing our copyright laws.
A Fair Deal is one that opens up new trade opportunities without forcing us to make copyright law changes that would take a major toll on New Zealand.

You can read more about the TPP and the Fair Deal campaign at the website, and we recommend that you look at What You Can Do - and do something to stop the TPP.

TPP Update

Posted on February 23, 2012

While ACTA gets all the attention in Europe, the governments involved in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement are still charging ahead. There have been 10 major negotiating rounds as well as many inter-session meetings, with the countries involved aiming to get it finished before the end of 2012.

You can read more about the TPP treaty, or why we think it's flawed, but this update is based on what we've been reading and a briefing from NZ officials today.

Firstly, the negotiators now have a consolidated draft text that they are working through slowly. Apparently the intellectual property (IP) sections are the most contentious with a lot of major differences still to be resolved.

Secondly, the main IP alternatives are the US proposal (leaked here and similar to other recent trade deals signed by the US) that would see copyright laws become more restrictive, more punitive and less just, versus the NZ/Chile ideas (leaked draft papers) which are largely based on TRIPS and allow for more flexibility between countries and even include some protection for consumers rather than just large media companies.

Thirdly, the US proposed IP chapter goes even further than what they originally proposed for ACTA (which was substantially watered down during the negotiating process). It includes internet account termination, statutory or triple damages in civil suits, an extension of what would count as criminal copyright infringement, allowing copyright holders to ban parallel importing, and criminal penalties for circumventing copy protection measures even if you weren't breaching copyright. As is typical with these types of proposals, respect for the right to due process and a fair trial are sadly lacking.

Finally, the whole process is still very secretive with little information getting out. There is not intention to release any draft texts, and the countries involved have even agreed not to release details of negotiations until four years after the treaty is signed.

What you can do

There's still a long way to go in the TPP negotiating process and there's still room to demand a better treaty and a more open process. Write to your MP and make sure they're aware of what's happening and that you're not happy about it

Considering joining TPP Watch if you're opposed to the whole treaty, or on the IP front NZ Rise is doing good work on sticking up for our local IT industry while Creative Freedom Foundation NZ is defending the interests of local artists.

You can keep up with TPP news with the TPP Digest or by following Michael Geist, Knowledge Ecology International and Public Knowledge.

Kiwicon – The government is your friend

Posted on November 7, 2011

The government is your friend and wants you to be happy.

This is the transcript of a speech given by Thomas Beagle at Kiwicon in Wellington on November 6th, 2011.

TPPA Forum – video of presentations

Posted on July 15, 2011

The TPP Forum held in Wellington a week ago was a great success with over 130 people turning up to find out more about the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and what it means for New Zealand.

The speeches have now been uploaded to YouTube.

Jane Kelsey put the TPP in an international and historical context and talked about the impact it would have on New Zealanders.

Thomas Beagle from Tech Liberty gave a presentation on how the TPP was an attempt to circumvent New Zealand's democracy in the formation of law around intellectual property.

Des O'Day, lecturer in health economics from Otago University, gave some background on Pharmac, how it worked to save New Zealand money, and how it would be at risk from the TPP. Due to technical difficulties Des's presentation was not videoed.

TPP Public Forum – 6th July, Wellington

Posted on June 5, 2011

Tech Liberty spokesperson Thomas Beagle will be presenting at a public forum about the TPP free trade treaty in Wellington on July 6th. The forum is organised by local Wellington group, TPP Action.

Details:

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Dispatches from the Copyright Wars

Posted on May 1, 2011

Call for submissions on regulations for new copyright law

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill has been passed and now the Ministry of Economic Development has to develop the detailed regulations that will define the processes described within the Bill. They have asked for submissions and have released a discussion document (link currently not working due to failure on MED site).

The main topics are:

  • The procedures around rights owners sending notices to IPAPs (internet service providers), IPAPs sending them on to account holders, and account holders challenging the notices.
  • The method that the Copyright Tribunal will use to calculate penalties.
  • The fees charged by IPAPs (ISPs) to the rights owners for handling the notices.

The following points are of note:

  • The draft list of requirements for a notice includes proof that the complainant does hold the copyright for the work being copied. The complainant must also have a New Zealand address for service.
  • The Ministry favours leaving the Copyright Tribunal to set the penalties with minimal guidance.
  • The discussion paper says that ISPs making submissions should work out their costs as if they were processing 5000 notices per month. Each!

We'll be doing a submission aimed at making this inherently flawed law work as fairly as possible.

Wikileaked US cables about s92A and TPP

Idiot Savant at No Right Turn has been keeping an eye on the flood of documents coming from Wikileaks and brought our attention to two of them:

From April 2009, this cable (09WELLINGTON88) is a general backgrounder on the events around the rise and fall of section 92A of the Copyright Act. The US bias towards the rights owners is clear and the cable makes it clear that the US government would be pressuring the NZ government to hurry in the redrafting of the law - and even offers to help. The following quote will worry anyone who has been following IP issues in the US:

U.S. agencies have the benefit of 10 years worth of experience in enforcing the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act that may serve useful to New Zealand officials in their effort to implement section 92A.

From February 2010, this cable about TPP (10WELLINGTON65) is amusing because the MFAT officials are telling the US that the perception in New Zealand that a free trade agreement with the US will lead to be a big increase in trade is over-hyped. The officials also admit that intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, patents) and pharmaceuticals will be contentious issues in NZ.

Guest Report: Second Day of TPP Negotiations in Auckland

Posted on December 7, 2010

Guest post with commentary on the first day at the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Auckland.


What I learned today in school The Trans Pacific Partnership Auckland Round IV Stakeholders briefing:

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Guest Report: First Day of TPP Negotiations in Auckland

Posted on December 7, 2010

Guest post with commentary on the first day at the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Auckland.


I'm here participating in the Stakeholder Events Programme.

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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.

ACTA vs TPP: The Case for Transparency in International Treaty Negotiations

Posted on December 5, 2010

ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has shown us that openness when negotiating trade agreements leads to a better result – but it looks like this lesson that hasn’t been learnt by the negotiators of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) free trade agreement.

At the beginning of the year Tech Liberty was involved in the campaign against the ACTA treaty. A major part of the problem with ACTA was that while we knew it was attempting to push more offensive IP laws, the secrecy around the negotiations meant we didn’t know what was in them.

Traditional Closed Model of Treaty Negotiation

ACTA followed the traditional model of negotiating a trade agreement (PDF), which goes something like this:

  1. A number of countries get together and decide to negotiate an agreement.
  2. The countries send their delegates to a series of meetings.
  3. The delegates discuss what sort of things will be in the treaty and come up with an agenda.
  4. Delegates present papers about particular topics.
  5. Work starts on a draft agreement.
  6. The delegates work through the draft removing points of difference.
  7. The text is finalised and returned to the governments for signing.
  8. In the democratic countries, the governments consult the people and then decide whether to sign the treaty or not.
  9. The governments make any required law changes and then sign the treaty.

You’ll note that the consultation with the people comes after the treaty text has been finalised. The process is structured so that there’s no chance that a government could consult, then come back to the negotiations and ask for more changes to be made (and indeed, this could be a bit chaotic).