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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is TPP Worse Than SOPA, PIPA & ACTA? | WebProNews

Is TPP Worse Than SOPA, PIPA & ACTA?

If secrecy and limited information is an indicator of worse, then yes it is


First there was SOPA, then there was PIPA. The Internet beat those back. Then along came ACTA inciting protests around the world. Up next is something far worse and far more secret – the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

For those that don’t know about TPP, which is probably a large majority of the population, it’s a treaty being devised by the U.S. with eight other countries in the Pacific including Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalem and Vietnam.

What many people consider to be the most dangerous thing about TPP is that the negotiations for it are being conducted in absolute secrecy. The public is not being allowed to be involved with the process of this all too important treaty.

WebProNews recently had the chance to speak with Sean Flynn, IP lecturer and director of the Information Justice Program at American University. He explained to us why the negotiations were being held in such secrecy.

The secrecy is being used to try to insulate the negotiation process from broader stakeholder and public input, and primarily is being driven by the USTR. What they are trying to avoid, of course, is broad attention to the many controversial provisions in the agreement which would draw criticism from citizens and businesses in the US and other negotiating countries, making reaching an agreement more difficult. This is because the norms USTR is pursuing are not broadly representative of the full scope of interests within the US or those represented in other countries. They primarily serve the big content industries and brand name pharmaceutical companies, which dominate the formal advising process that shapes the USTR positions. As the recent SOPA debate demonstrates, there are many more interests that need to be taken into account in intellectual property legislation.

Do you agree with Flynn? Are the TPP negotiations being held in secret to prevent public scrutiny and criticism? Let us know in the comments.

Let’s back up a little bit though. The negotiations are being held in secret, but we’ve known about TPP for a while now. We’re just being fed all the wrong info. The U.S. Trade Representative Web site details TPP as a great achievement for the economies of all the countries involved.

We are delighted to have achieved this milestone in our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges. We are confident that this agreement will be a model for ambition for other free trade agreements in the future, forging close linkages among our economies, enhancing our competitiveness, benefitting our consumers and supporting the creation and retention of jobs, higher living standards, and the reduction of poverty in our countries.

Building on this achievement and on the successful work done so far, we have committed here in Honolulu to dedicate the resources necessary to conclude this landmark agreement as rapidly as possible. At the same time, we recognize that there are sensitive issues that vary for each country yet to be negotiated, and have agreed that together, we must find appropriate ways to address those issues in the context of a comprehensive and balanced package, taking into account the diversity of our levels of development. Therefore, we have instructed our negotiating teams to meet in early December of this year to continue their work and furthermore to schedule additional negotiating rounds for 2012.

We are gratified by the progress that we are now able to announce toward our ultimate goal of forging a pathway that will lead to free trade across the Pacific. We share a strong interest in expanding our current partnership of nine geographically and developmentally diverse countries to others across the region. As we move toward conclusion of an agreement, we have directed our negotiating teams to continue talks with other trans-Pacific partners that have expressed interest in joining the TPP in order to facilitate their future participation.

President Obama also backs TPP wholeheartedly claiming the same things that the USTR does. He goes over how it will “boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people.” He goes on to say that TPP creates a trade network that will be America’s fifth-largest trading partner.

From these statements, it seems like any other trade agreement. Nothing to see here, carry on. Even the Web site’s statement on intellectual property enforcement doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. It says that it’s looking for “an effective and balanced approach to intellectual property rights among the TPP countries.” It goes on to say that they are taking all the proposals of how IP rights should be enforced and considering all their options. This doesn’t actually sound that bad. Too bad last year’s draft of the IP chapter written by the U.S. was leaked online last year.

Knowledge Ecology International ran a quick rundown of the proposed changes to IP laws in TPP. They found that consumer protection was “weak or missing.” They point out three major problems with the wording of the bill last year that should have people concerned.

Overall, the USTR proposal for the TPP intellectual property chapter would:
(1) include a number of features that would lock-in as a global norm many controversial features of U.S. law, such as endless copyright terms.
(2) create new global norms that are contrary to U.S. legal traditions, such as those proposed to damages for infringement, the enforcement of patents against surgeons and other medical professional, rules concerning patents on biologic medicines, disclosure of information from ISPs, etc.
(3) undermine many proposed reforms of the patent and copyright system, such as, for example, proposed legislation to increase access to orphaned copyrighted works by limiting damages for infringement, or statutory exclusions of “non-industrial” patents such as those issued for business methods.

It’s important to note that this leak comes from late last year. The wording could have changed by now for better or for worse. We just don’t know. The absolute secrecy in which the meetings are being held prevent anybody from getting a clear picture on how things are going.

Going back to Sean Flynn, he and his colleagues caught wind of negotiations happening in West Hollywood this past week. He organized a luncheon to discuss TPP while the negotiations were going on to perhaps broker some kind of cooperation between the negotiators and IP rights specialists. As expected, it didn’t go as planned, here’s Flynn’s take on it:


Here's a Quote from the, TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

Each Party shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied at least in
cases of willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial
scale. Willful copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale includes:
(a) significant willful copyright or related rights infringements that have no direct or
   indirect motivation of financial gain; and
(b) willful infringements for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial
Each Party shall treat willful importation or exportation of counterfeit or pirated goods as
unlawful activities subject to criminal penalties.25
Each Party shall also provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied, even
absent willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy, at least in cases of
knowing trafficking in:
(a) labels or packaging, of any type or nature, to which a counterfeit trademark26 has
   been applied, the use of which is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to
  deceive; and
(b) counterfeit or illicit labels27 affixed to, enclosing, or accompanying, or designed to
   be affixed to, enclose, or accompany the following:
24 For greater certainty, “financial gain” for purposes of this Article includes the receipt or
expectation of anything of value.
25 A Party may comply with this obligation in relation to exportation of pirated goods through
its measures concerning distribution.
26 Negotiator’s Note: For greater certainty, the definition of “counterfeit trademark goods” in
footnote [12] shall be used as context for this Article."

Fair Use... We don't need no Freaking Fair Use!!!:O I got this from, last year’s draft of the IP chapter written by the U.S. was leaked online last year (DRAFT – FEBRUARY 10, 2011).


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Webcast Available: Public Interest Organizations Address Closed Door TPP Negotiations
Trans-Pacific Partnership | Office of the United States Trade Representative
Don't Let TPP Become the New ACTA: Contact Your Lawmakers and Demand Transparency! - Electronic Frontier Foundation
The complete Feb 10, 2011 text of the US proposal for the TPP IPR chapter | Knowledge Ecology International

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