eff.gifChris Meadows reported almost a year ago to the day on the invidious attempts by US trade negotiators in hock to Big Media vested interests to impose onerous copyright, intellectual property, and public domain restrictions worldwide via the Trans-Pacific Partnership – in secret, without negotiation or public consultation. Sad to say, a year on very little has changed, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation has revealed courtesy of a leaked document on the TPP state of play.

As the EFF says:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) poses massive threats to users in a dizzying number of ways. It will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States’ excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. It contains DRM anti-circumvention provisions that will make it a crime to tinker with, hack, re-sell, preserve, and otherwise control any number of digital files and devices that you own. The TPP will encourage ISPs to monitor and police their users, likely leading to more censorship measures such as the blockage and filtering of content online in the name of copyright enforcement. And in the most recent leak of the TPP’s Intellectual Property chapter, we found an even more alarming provision on trade secrets that could be used to crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers who report on corporate wrongdoing.

It’s wrong to assume that the TPP would extend existing U.S. regulations to international markets without affecting those at home. For instance, the trade secrets provision is especially far-reaching and scary:

The TPP and TTIP are, supposedly, free trade agreements; they are not the Cybercrime Convention. If this text were accepted, it would be the first time that a trade agreement would be used to criminalize those who obtain access to secret information held online, regardless of their motivation and without any public interest defenses. Like the rest of the IP chapter—but if anything, even more so—this goes far beyond the appropriate scope for an agreement that is being negotiated behind closed doors and away from public oversight.

It’s not hard to imagine in the post-Snowden era that Big Media is getting self-conscious about having some of its dirtier secrets revealed – secrets, like, for instance, clandestine negotiations to impose drastic IP and whistleblowing penalties worldwide? But with press freedom itself under attack globally, it’s not good to see that, as the EFF states, the trade secrets clauses “are amongst the most atrocious, overreaching and human-rights infringing provisions in the entire text of the TPP.”

Then there’s the copyright term extension provisions, which “embody everything that is wrong with the TPP’s digital policy rules, namely that the rules are put there for and by corporate interests that are privy to these secret negotiations, at the expense of users and the public interest.” Loopholes where the U.S. itself does not impose strict term limits on certain works could be closed. And the EFF does a good job of marshaling arguments to show why such extensions bring no benefit beyond immediate advantage to the Big Media lobbies busily tweaking the process.

The EFF provides buttons and links to “Take Action Now.” It’s only to be hoped that people do. Else you could be having even more of your rights taken away from you in secret.


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