What’s in the TPP?

Well, since everyone but country negotiators and industry “advisors” have been kept in the dark, it’s hard to say.

But Public Knowledge has been tracking international IP issues for a number of years and a draft text was leaked in February 2011, so we can make an educated guess about what might be in the TPP’s IP chapter.

(The agreement also covers a vast range of other issues, including tariffs on various kinds of goods, labor standards, telecommunications, and intellectual property.)

Here’s an educated guess about what may be in it and how these provisions might affect you and people living in other TPP countries:

Protecting incidental copies. Kicking people off the internet.
The TPP would provide copyright owners power over “buffer copies.” These are the small copies that computers need to make in the process moving data around. With buffer copy protection the number of transactions for which you would need a license from the copyright owner would increase a great deal. One impact of this could be that the music you stream from services such as Pandora could get much more expensive when rights holders demand higher license fees to compensate them for the “additional” copies.

The TPP would encourage your ISP and the content industry to agree to institute measures such as three strikes—which kicks you off your internet connection after three accusations of copyright infringement—and deep-packet-inspection—which is akin to the USPS opening your mail. While we can not be sure exactly what is in the TPP, these examples are derived from a copy of the TPP’s IP chapter that leaked in February last year, the provisions that were reported to be part of earlier drafts of ACTA, and previous free trade agreements that the US has signed.

Criminalizing small scale copyright infringement. Locking out the Deaf and Blind.
Under the TPP, downloading music could be considered a crime. Your computer could be seized as a device that aids this offense and your kid could be sent to jail for downloading. Some of these rules are part of US law. The TPP makes them worse and also imposes similar rules on other countries that don’t have them. The TPP would prevent the blind from reading DRM protected ebooks and the deaf from inserting closed captioning onto DRM protected DVDs. In the US, the Copyright Office has made rules in the past that allows the blind to break this DRM. But the continuation of these rules is not a guarantee. And the other TPP countries could fail to make similar rules.

Of course, the provisions of TPP could be much worse. We will only know if the text of the agreement is actually released to the public, something the USTR has refused to do.

Meanwhile, many content industry representatives have access to the text and can work towards getting more draconian provisions into the agreement. If this process seems outrageous to you, contact the White House to let them know that such secrecy is not only unjustifiable, but unacceptable.

Comments

  1. I wish Americans were screaming about the U.S.A. resistance to the proposed tribunal exceptions with respect to health and environment; instead of slamming the pact itself or the people trying to achieve consensus on a draft. I suspect this pact is aiming at a paradigm shift that very much needs to happen and I find the fact that my own country is one of the biggest obstacles to that embarrassing.

    The concept behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Pact is based on two over-arching premises:
    1. That all can benefit from this pact in real and material ways, such as improvements to infrastructure and standards of living.
    2. It is a country’s domestic laws, regulations and procedures that determine a country’s impact on the global economy.
    To me, those over-arching premises are the forest. The details of what we do next are the trees. We can and should talk about the trees all day long but let’s keep the forest in mind while we do.

    The binding provision is, each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures. That’s pretty much what the folks responsible for drafting this pact are arguing about right now, right? Which domestic laws, regulations and procedures will the members be required to adopt? Those with higher, better functioning standards are insisting they be the model. Those with less well functioning systems, such as the U.S.A., are reluctant to change.

    There a lot of countries that have tougher environmental and food safety standards than the U.S.A. There are a lot of countries that have better functioning, (much better functioning), health care systems than the U.S.A. There are countries where the wealth is fairly distributed, where there is no abject poverty and obscene wealth is held in check.

    Can you imagine how tough it was for those countries to achieve those things? But they achieved it. What if the barriers to their wisdom being adopted by the rest of the world were finally and permanently torn down in the name of global golden standards so that all of us could live in a way that truly makes sense? Might that be worth working towards?

    I would like us to see this as an opportunity. I would like us to learn everything we can about this proposal, argue loudly against the specifics we believe unacceptable, (such as opacity around the current drafting process and the appearance of unfair influence by special interest groups). And I would like us to passionately support those aspects that can enable higher standards of both national conduct and individual living around the world.

    • If this TPP was so great why is it so secret? These should have a public forum as they concern all citizens not just those who think they have a right to dictate to others- this Pact is dangerous and will not provide a better standard of living for anyone but the opposite- it is following the dictates of 1984 in that a few think they should control the lives of the many- it is the antithesis of DEMOCRACY!

    • I am concerned about a group that don’t want the public to know what it’s doing especially when it will affect the people of each country! All discussions should be known by the public ! Secret meetings is good for no one! It has been shown that big business is for big business not the workers or the people!

    • Dude! You miss the big picture here. We no longer make our own laws. Now let’s say for example that one of these countries decides to rescind from the agreement, and we are using one of the countries that you so eloquently said we should use as the model. What if this country turns out to be in better shape than we are. Do we then take a screwing by them and allow them to just walk? Do their laws then trump our laws? There is way more to this than you understand I think. I don’t trust this, any more than I trusted NAFTA, and look at what NAFTA did to the U.S. economy. Do you honestly think that something this big, being run by corporations, has our best interest in it at all? If you do, you are missing the big picture. All one needs to do is look at what has happened to the middle class in this country over the past 30 years and you’ll have your answer. If this wasn’t going to work in the same manner, why are so many corporations and corporate lobbyists so involved in fast tracking it through?

  2. Anything negotiated in secrecy implies that something about it, is detrimental to the rest of us, and is WRONG. I am a voter – I have not by my vote authorized any bureaucrats to conduct secret decisions on my behalf. If I have not authorized this, I will not be bound by it. Again, anything drafted by bureaucrats and big business interests in secret, with no opportunity for the despised ‘public’ to have a say, but intended to enforce public behavior is against liberty and effectively is coercion.

    • I hate to say it Bail, but you’ll be bound by whatever they do. We are bound to NAFTA. I never had a say in that either. But I’m bound to it now. When I look at the labor market now compared to then, I kick myself for night fighting congress harder then. I agree that this is bad. I agree that we shouldn’t do it. But if you are truly concerned about it, contact your congressional leaders for your state and let them know your concern. Get everyone you can to do the same. Get involved and be an activist. If you don’t, this is going to make it through congress, the President is going to sign it and we are all going to be screwed in the end. Stand up and speak out. Make your voice heard.

  3. When a president of a nation and his administration bans congress from having access to “TPP” trade content which in return they are due to vote on…seems strange and obscure to say the least. Why can’t members of our own congress which are there to represent the people read this document? Doesn’t anyone find this odd? I favor equal opportunity to all in these planet of ours but I don’t favor secretive societies/treaties/trades etc…etc… so a selected few can accomplish their obscure means.

    • Tom Noel, you are correct and I did just that. I contacted my congressional leader as well as my senators for my state, however; the issue is that this topic is not being discussed by the media, the masses are not aware of what’s happening in our nation. I only heard about “TPP” trade today, after researching more about it…I turned mad because it attacks our own sovereignty as well as the sovereignty of other joining members in favor of corporations – many of them American. A President’s job is to protect it’s nation and it’s people yet he’s doing the contrary.

  4. I see a lot of people talking about the talks being kept in secret. You are being mislead by the media. The document is not “secret”, the process is not “secret”. And if you take the word “secret” out of the story it suddenly becomes a lot less interesting to you, doesn’t it? Hmm?

    The TPP act is simply a work in progress that is not ready for public review yet. My own brother-in-law worked for the State Dept at a middle manager level before he recently retired. He and everyone he worked with were aware of the talks, the goals, the challenges, etc. True the sessions are not open to the public. If they were nothing would ever get done.

    Spend your energy curbing the .01% by all means. That is our real problem. All the rest is just distraction. Keep an open mind when reading about international trade talks. Change can be good.

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