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.


  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?

    • I agree with all your arguments and positions. However, have you ever looked at this agreement from the point of ‘lets join all these countries into one country/economy’ Now with this concept, lets look at what will happen (in my opinion). You have 12 players that all want to be equal, therefore everything will have to be equal. This will effect every part of your life. Lets try Wages. There are many countries in this agreement that have a lower hourly rate than the USA and other countries. If this is implemented, then your hourly wage will drop, balance out all the countries (including the $ difference) some wages will rise and others will fall. Basically, a bus driver will earn the same CREDIT $ value in one country as another bus driver in another country. If your country is on the higher hourly rate — it will drop. This agreement is not to be released for 5 years after it has been signed for this exact reason — to give time for the countries and people to adapt so that we are all be equal.
      Wages is just one example of what this agreement states. What about all the other areas of your lives that will be effected, foe example :- Medical, housing, schooling, areas where to live, whats allowed and whats not.

      So basically…..STOP THE TPP

  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.

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  5. Looks a little like trickle down economics for American workers. We saw how that worked out in the past.

  6. Killing the middle class like NAFTA did so long ago, corporations rule this country and screw the people. We need a revolution and take back this country! call your senator and congress and tell them no TPP.

  7. What’s up, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this article. It was practical.

    Keep on posting!

  8. 47percent says:

    Here’s the crux of what is being called the TPP trade agreement:

    • TPP global corporations will not be subject to American, state, or local law, but will be above the law, any law, even if they are foreign corporations.

    • No person or entity, including state and federal governments, shall negatively impact the future profitability of these corporations.

    • Violators will be sued and the lawsuit tried and decided upon by the TPP Tribunal, made up of the TPP global corporations corporate lawyers rotating in the role as judge. They have never decided against one of their global corporations.

    • The TPP trade agreement is forever, and it is a living document that can be changed on a whim by the TPP corporations without any approval needed. It is permanent, everlasting subjucation to the absolute authority of the TPP corporations and World Bank.

    Here is what you will lose:

    The right to a government and constitution, and our democracy. America will never again be an independent self-governing nation and democracy, but merely a nation-state in an absolutist trade partnership governed by global and foreign interests and dictated to, like Greece, by foreign interests. Remember, the TPP is forever and no one but the TPP corporations can change it. Sound like tyranny?

    The right to say you don’t like a company or a product.

    The right to boycott effectively.

    The right to organize workers, be in a labor union, picket, or be a whistleblower.

    The right to make any law, federal, state or local that one of the global TPP corporations don’t like. In other words, the right to self-governance.

    The right to protest, like protesting a Walmart store coming to your town, or protesting a toxic dump site from being started in your back yard.

    The right to environmental protection—these companies can pollute all they want, and sue our country for imposing environmental laws to protect our water, air, radiation leaks, etc.

    The right to do business, as a corporation, partnership or sole proprietor, as you will be negatively impacting the expected profits of some TPP member. And they will be expanding to take over any industries they don’t already service, since they have all the power.

    The right to grow your own food—part of the trade agreement gives Monsanto the right to patent all the natural plants that God made. Also, your garden negatively impacts the future profits of Walmart and the other food suppliers.

    The ability to raise livestock—in addition to lawsuits, there will be huge costs for agricultural licenses, not to mention Monsanto will patent the chicken and cow you own and you will at least have to pay Monsanto a use fee, if even allowed.

    The right to know what is in our food and where it comes from. This is already a problem due to NAFTA and we are repealing COOL.

    The right to a free press to tell us the truth about what is going on, to tell us if something bad has happened, like a company has spilled chemicals in our water supply. Such bad press would impact the future profits of that company.

    The right to make laws to protect ourselves and our children—movie rating systems, porn restrictions, restrictions on alcohol, gambling, and even laws that protect us from dangerous industry would be abolished.

    The rights to due process and other legal remedies as we know them now. Lawsuits against us by the TPP companies will be tried and decided by the TPP tribunal, which consists of the corporate lawyers for all the global companies rotating in the role of judge and also members of the World Bank. They have never decided against a TPP company.

    You will lose generic drugs, and the current “low” drug prices as the patents on drugs are extended in this agreement to over 20 years. Cancer medications will be too expensive for most people.

    You will lose free internet, and internet freedom.

    You will lose your money, once we are bankrupt, which is unavoidable and the whole purpose of the TPP and the following trade agreements. You will not be able to get your money out of the bank, our currency will change.

    Deeds and other government documents will lose their integrity. Our land will be ours until some TPP corporation wants it.

    Completely wide open borders—its in the agreement and closing them could negatively impact expected future profits.

    Our national security will be undermined as foreign companies relocate to America and make whatever demands they like. Like Canada claiming eminent domain of American land to put in the Keystone Pipeline. Its NAFTA that emboldens them to try this.

    Expect Gun Control to be part of this, since you are losing the rest of your rights. It doesn’t benefit these companies to have an armed citizenry.

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