What Is TPP? Biggest Global Threat to the Internet Since ACTA

Below is our infographic highlighting the most problematic aspects of TPP. Please spread the word about how this agreement will impact you and your country. Right-click and save the image for the PNG file, or you can download the PDF version below. Remix it, build upon it, and get the word out. Let's protect and defend the Internet from this secret trade deal.

The United States and ten governments from around the Pacific are meeting yet again to hash out the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) on May 15-24 in Lima, Peru. The TPP is one of the worst global threats to the Internet since ACTA. Since the negotiations have been secretive from the beginning, we mainly know what's in the current version of this trade agreement because of a leaked draft [PDF] from February 2011. Based upon that text, some other leaked notes, and the undemocratic nature of the entire process, we have every reason to be alarmed about the copyright enforcement provisions contained in this multinational trade deal.

The TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law to Pacific Rim countries: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on devices and creative works (even for legal purposes), a minimum copyright term of the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years (the current international norm is the lifetime plus fifty years), privatization of enforcement for copyright infringement, ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement. Moreover, the TPP is worse than U.S. copyright rules: it does not export the many balances and exceptions that favor the public interest and act as safety valves in limiting rightsholders’ protection. Adding insult to injury, the TPP's temporary copies provision will likely create chilling effects on how people and companies behave online and their basic ability to use and create on the Web.

The stated goal of the TPP is to unite the Pacific Rim countries by harmonizing tariffs and trade rules between them, but in reality, it's much more than that. The "intellectual property" chapter in this massive trade agreement will likely force changes to copyright and patent rules in each of the signatory countries. Accepting these new rules will not just re-write national laws, but will also restrict the possibility for countries to introduce more balanced copyright laws in the future. This strategy may end up harming other countries' more proportionate laws such as Chile, where a judicial order is required for ISPs to be held liable for copyright infringement and take down content. Such systems better protect users and intermediaries from disproportionate or censorship-driven takedowns. If the final TPP text forces countries to adopt a privatized notice and takedown regime, this could imply the end of the Chilean system. It would also undermine canada's notice and notice regime.

The content industry can and will continue to buy and lie to get their way to get laws that protects their interests, and what they want more than anything is for us to remain passively ignorant. They did it with SOPA, ACTA, and now it's TPP [ESP]. It's going to be a challenge to defeat these policies, but we can do it. The TPP is slated for conclusion this October, but our goal is to get the worst of these copyright provisions out of it. The way to fight back is to show that we will not put up with this: to demand an open transparent process that allows everyone, including experts from civil society members, to analyze, question, and probe any initiatives to regulate the Internet. The secrecy must be stopped once and for all.

Take this action and join over 26,000 people to send a message to your elected representatives. Let's call on Congress to demand for the immediate release of the text of the TPP, and make this process become democratic and transparent once and for all.

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Below is our infographic highlighting the most problematic aspects of TPP. Please spread the word about how this agreement will impact you and your country. Right-click and save the image for the PNG file, or you can download the PDF version below. Remix it, build upon it, and get the word out. Let's protect and defend the Internet from this secret trade deal.

Reproduced with kind permission from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Replies to This Discussion

charlie foxtrot...over

I think some copyright distinctions need to be made. For example, a pharmaceutical invention that benefits mankind should have a relatively short copyright duration so that generics can be made available more quickly. 

On the other hand, I've never understood why artistic creations should have any termination date at all. If I build a house, I can pass it along to my children, they to theirs, and on and on in perpetuity. Why then, if I write a novel that becomes a classic, must it pass into public domain after a certain number of years?

Would you have the family of Isaac Newton to still have a copyright on Newton's Laws?  Lincoln's descendents still to have a copyright on the Gettysburg Address?

The purpose of copyright and trademark protection is to encourage creativity by appropriately compensating creators, not to establish family dynasties with a monopoly on ideas.

I would exempt scientific discoveries from eternal copyright just as I said I would medical discoveries, drugs, etc.

I don't see what harm would be done by an eternal copyright on the Gettysburg Address, considering the fair uses which already exist. But as a government document, I think it wouldn't be copyrightable anyway.

Why SHOULDN'T my heirs benefit from the value I created when I wrote a classic novel? How is it different from passing real property along?

Copyright establishes control over making copies. Nobody can control an idea.

Why SHOULDN'T my heirs benefit from the value I created when I wrote a classic novel? How is it different from passing real property along?

If you're asking from a legal standpoint the answer is that copyright was never intended as a means to create and protect wealth for the holder of the copyright. I'm sure the RIAA, MPAA, Viacom, Sony, and other media multinationals would like the public to think so. But it simply isn't true.

The framers of the Constitution stated the purpose of copyright law: "...[P]romote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for a limited Time to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." The power of Congress to pass copyright and patent legislation derives from this part of the Constitution. 

After that "limited Time" the created works and inventions pass into the public domain. The idea was that the makers benefit from their work for a while (originally a maximum of 28 years) and then the public benefits from them thereafter (for free).

Copyright exists to promote science and art in the public interest, not personal profit.

How does giving me perpetual copyright to an artistic work impede the creativity of other artists? And if the public wants to benefit from my work, what's wrong with buying it?

Using the same sort of dumb logic, if I build a family home why shouldn't it after a certain number of years be taken away and become public property?

How does giving me perpetual copyright to an artistic work impede the creativity of other artists?

Perpetual copyright does not exist, so that makes it rather difficult for you to claim anyone is decrying its impact on artistic creativity. Maybe so, maybe not. But who said it does?

And if the public wants to benefit from my work, what's wrong with buying it?

Nothing. If you're the copyright holder, may you rake it in.

Patents and copyrights are government-sanctioned monopolies. The public benefits in that inventors and authors have a profit motive to create useful stuff. Remove the profit motive and it harms "scientific and useful artistic progress". But it also benefits the public in that these monopolies are temporary. I presume no explanation is necessary as to why permanent monopolies are harmful to the public interest in a free market society. 

Using the same sort of dumb logic, if I build a family home why shouldn't it after a certain number of years be taken away and become public property?

What makes you think it can't be taken away already? Your home can be seized for public use or even for private use right now. There isn't even any need for the government to wait a certain number of years. All it takes is for someone with enough power to declare that it's in the public interest. Then it's gone.

How does giving me perpetual copyright to an artistic work impede the creativity of other artists?

Perpetual copyright does not exist, so that makes it rather difficult for you to claim anyone is decrying its impact on artistic creativity. Maybe so, maybe not. But who said it does?

Of course it doesn't exist, which is why I'm asking why it Shouldn't. Maybe you just didn't understand what I was asking

Back to my question, then, which was why does this have to end and why shouldn't it be treated like other property which I can pass along to my heirs and they to theirs?

Patents and copyrights are government-sanctioned monopolies. The public benefits in that inventors and authors have a profit motive to create useful stuff. Remove the profit motive and it harms "scientific and useful artistic progress". But it also benefits the public in that these monopolies are temporary. I presume no explanation is necessary as to why permanent monopolies are harmful to the public interest in a free market society.

I don't give a shit about industrial copyrights and patents. I'm only concerned with artistic works. I can see that the public benefit outweighs the disadvantages to the copyright/patent holders when it comes to useful developments and inventions. I don't see the same cost/benefit when it comes to novels, poems, paintings, and musical works.

Using the same sort of dumb logic, if I build a family home why shouldn't it after a certain number of years be taken away and become public property?

What makes you think it can't be taken away already? Your home can be seized for public use or even for private use right now. There isn't even any need for the government to wait a certain number of years. All it takes is for someone with enough power to declare that it's in the public interest. Then it's gone.

Yes, I'm quite aware of eminent domain, but the law generally requires a fair compensation for the seizure of such property, and I don't see a need for seizing novels, poems, paintings, and musical works.

Of course it doesn't exist, which is why I'm asking why it Shouldn't. Maybe you just didn't understand what I was asking.

I understand the what, not the why. It's a non-starter as a legal issue and you're asking someone here to defend it? Why? Not even the corporate fascists are asking for perpetual copyright. Does it even exist anywhere?

I don't give a shit about industrial copyrights and patents. [...] I don't see the same cost/benefit when it comes to novels, poems, paintings, and musical works.

Media giants like Viacom ARE industrial copyright holders. Look at the way e-book readers like Kindle and Nook have taken off, along with mp3 music like i-tunes. Amazon, Apple, Sony, MPAA, RIAA. These are the guys holding the giant catalogs of music, movies, books, (including books of poems and paintings) and the rights to them. They control the watchdog hardware and software that manages those rights and spies on you, even after you buy it and it's sitting in your house. With TPP, messing with their stuff, even for legal reasons, even if you paid for it, is a crime. With TPP they police and enforce those rights themselves, deciding arbitrarily when they've been infringed and who has to pay up for doing it. Go and look. That's in someone's interest all right, but it's not in the public interest.

Yes, I'm quite aware of eminent domain, but the law generally requires a fair compensation for the seizure of such property, and I don't see a need for seizing novels, poems, paintings, and musical works.

Then your analogy was faulty. A private lot seized under eminent domain and used to build a public library effectively belongs to everyone. A work passing into the public domain upon expiration of copyright effectively belongs to no-one so it has not been seized.

You think it's a non-starter? Even with the huge corporate interests you refer to on my side? I don't get it.

I think some distinction needs to be made between between private citizens who create works and corporate interests who don't really create work themselves. I think the distinction could be that once the original artists transfers ownership, the work goes into a different category which has a "use by" date.

Libraries and academic institutions already enjoy liberties unavailable otherwise. There's no need to grab a poem by eminent domain in order for a library to house it.

you said " I presume no explanation is necessary as to why permanent monopolies are harmful to the public interest in a free market society"

I'd like an explanation. This seems like one of those things assumed to be obvious but that people rarely think about it in depth or empirically. 

Are there any examples of a permanent monopoly causing problems in a free market society, or is everything for prevention of something we don't even know is bad? 

OPINION-PRERESPONSE::

Frankly, a permanent monopoly seems to make a lot of sense to me. Science is already hurting SO much, and inventions are rare and most copyrights now are for useless things.

If someone has a copyright monopoly, and their product becomes obsolete because someone ELSE made a better product, then who cares if it's an eternal copyright? Shouldn't the minds that created society as we know it have benefits that go to their children, considering that a brilliant mind RAISED the child? 

you said " I presume no explanation is necessary as to why permanent monopolies are harmful to the public interest in a free market society"

I'd like an explanation. This seems like one of those things assumed to be obvious but that people rarely think about it in depth or empirically. 

Are there any examples of a permanent monopoly causing problems in a free market society, or is everything for prevention of something we don't even know is bad? 

I presumed this was common knowledge regarding monopolies: it was high school-level history and economics when I was a high school student back in the 1980s. You can find a primer here, which includes the following:

Competition law, or antitrust law, has three main elements:

  • prohibiting agreements or practices that restrict free trading and competition between business. This includes in particular the repression of free trade caused by cartels.
  • banning abusive behavior by a firm dominating a market [a monopoly] , or anti-competitive practices that tend to lead to such a dominant position. Practices controlled in this way may include predatory pricing, tying, price gouging, refusal to deal, and many others. [the bad stuff it does]
  • supervising the mergers and acquisitions of large corporations, including some joint ventures. Transactions that are considered to threaten the competitive process can be prohibited altogether, or approved subject to "remedies" such as an obligation to divest part of the merged business or to offer licenses or access to facilities to enable other businesses to continue competing.

There are no examples of damage done by permanent monopolies created by permanent copyrights and permanent patents: no such copyrights and patents exist anywhere.

But there are examples of damage done by monopolies. Google "examples of monopoly harm".

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OPINION-PRERESPONSE::

Frankly, a permanent monopoly seems to make a lot of sense to me. Science is already hurting SO much, and inventions are rare and most copyrights now are for useless things.

Not true. The number of patents applied for and granted has been increasing for decades. And if the copyrights are useless anyway, how does it make a lot of sense to make them permanent?

If someone has a copyright monopoly, and their product becomes obsolete because someone ELSE made a better product, then who cares if it's an eternal copyright?

If nobody cares if it's an eternal copyright, then how does it make a lot of sense to change the laws (in every country in the world) to invent eternal copyright?

Shouldn't the minds that created society as we know it have benefits that go to their children, considering that a brilliant mind RAISED the child?

This happens already with existing patent law. A patent gives the inventor a 20-year monopoly. If the invention is great enough to "create society as we know it" then a 20-year head start is plenty of time to make the inventor rich, and then the benefits of being rich DO go to his children.

A permanent monopoly would pass the benefits on to his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, great-great-great-great grandchildren and so on, FOREVER. Or the patent, if especially valuable, may be sold off and end up at Monsanto, Exxon, Microsoft, etc.

No new aristocracy for me, thanks. The existing one is quite enough already. I'm just as content to see the descendants of patent holders get jobs at McDonald's and pay their own way through college. Let them work their way through life based on their own abilities, rather than live a life of wealth, luxury and privilege because of what some distant ancestor did.

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