Critics concerned trade agreement will include SOPA language

The US government may try to push tough copyright-enforcement provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, critics say

As the U.S. and eight other nations negotiate a wide-ranging trade agreement, several digital rights groups said they're concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will bring back controversial copyright-enforcement provisions pushed by some U.S. policymakers in recent years.

Negotiators for countries negotiating the TPP, also including Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Chile, have not released their proposed agreement, but some digital rights groups are concerned that the U.S. will push for copyright enforcement provisions found in unsuccessful bills the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), and the still-alive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

The TPP could hurt the freedom of individuals to access and use the Internet, critics said this week.

"We see that many of the intellectual-property provisions that have been reflected in ACTA, SOPA and PIPA are being pushed forward in this agreement," Maira Sutton, international IP coordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a briefing for reporters this week.

The EFF and other digital rights groups have several concerns about the trade agreement. TPP negotiations, started in 2007, entered a 14th round Thursday. Negotiators are meeting in Leesburg, Virginia, until Sept. 15. In addition to the nine countries now involved, negotiators have invited Canada and Mexico to join. Eventually, up to 21 countries, representing about 40 percent of the world's population, could be involved in the talks.

Working off a leaked version of the TPP from 2011, digital rights groups are concerned that the agreement doesn't balance copyright protections with exceptions, including fair use, said Rashmi Rangnath, director of the Global Knowledge Initiative at Public Knowledge.

In July, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) proposed that the TPP include a process for creating "an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research."

But that process is "open to interpretation" and doesn't give countries enough guidance on how to create fair-use rights, Rangnath said. Instead, fair use should be spelled out in the trade agreement, she added.

Public Knowledge is also concerned about tough rules against breaking digital rights management (DRM).

A spokeswoman for the USTR defended the TPP negotiations, saying critics may be working off old copies of the proposed agreement. Copyright provisions were discussed extensively at the last negotiating round, in July, she said.

She also discounted concerns that TPP negotiators are not being transparent. The negotiating countries have encouraged outside participation in their meeting and have sought public comment on the trade deal, she noted.

"In the Trans-Pacific Partnership, USTR has endeavored to ensure that all voices are heard in the attempt to find the correct balance of views on complicated and complex trade issues," the agency said in a June statement. "To ensure public input on TPP from the start, USTR solicited written comments from interested individuals, organizations, and businesses before entering into the talks."

The agency has also "sought advice before negotiations began -- and continues to do so as they progress -- from scores of individual advisors" who serve on trade advisory committees in President Barack Obama's administration, the agency said.

Still, critics said they are concerned that the TPP will go beyond tough copyright-enforcement provisions found in ACTA and the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The leaked copy of the TPP may require Internet service providers to cut off customers who are accused of repeated copyright infringement, said Carolina Rossini, EFF's director for international intellectual property. That type of rule would create a "private enforcement" regime beyond many countries' current laws, she said.

The treaty could also call for a DMCA-style takedown process for websites hosting user content. Some countries have "better due process" where users can challenge complaints from copyright holders, she said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?