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.
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.
NZ police have arrested four people connected with MegaUpload.com in New Zealand today at the request of the US FBI. They have been charged in the US "with running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works through Megaupload.com and other related sites". (FBI press release.)
We have little faith in the fairness and appropriateness of the US's laws and processes around copyright and intellectual property. The US government is continually strengthening its copyright laws at the behest of the entertainment industry (see SOPA and PIPA) and is trying to pass laws that we would not like to see copied in NZ.
Will this NZ police cooperation lead to New Zealanders being arrested and handed over to the US for doing things that may not be serious offences in New Zealand? Which other countries' laws do New Zealanders have to obey when using the internet?
Whether this case is an example of good international cooperation or the US demanding other countries help enforce bad law is yet to be determined. We will be monitoring this issue closely and hope to publish more information as it is available.
- FBI charges seven with online piracy (Wall Street Journal)
- Megaupload's Kim Schmitz arrested in Auckland, site shut down (3news)
- File-sharing website Megaupload shut down, NZ-based founder arrested (PC World NZ)
- File-sharing kingpin arrested in New Zealand at US officials' request (NBR)
- 'We're not pirates, we're just providing shipping services to pirates' (Wall Street Journal Law Blog).
- Why the feds smashed Megaupload (Ars Technica).
- Megaupload attempting to get back online (Stuff NZ)
- The FBI press release.
- The indictment.
- Statement from the NZ Police.
- The NZ extradition treaty (PDF) with the US.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's information about extradition from New Zealand
- Yes, copyright infringement can be criminal in New Zealand with imprisonment up to five years.
- Damning quotes from the MegaUpload owner's email.
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.
Yesterday, Hilary Clinton made a speech committing the USA to the cause of internet freedom.
We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.