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.