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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.

MegaUpload arrests in New Zealand

Posted on January 20, 2012

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.)

Comment

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.

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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.

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.

Tech Liberty welcomes US defense of internet freedom

Posted on January 23, 2010

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.