Top Five Ways Lobbyists Will Win and We Will Lose If a Major Corporate Trade Deal Goes Through
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Something very important happened last week.
For the first time, Presidents and Prime Ministers of several countries met with industry lobbyists to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali, Indonesia. Although U.S. President Obama suddenly announced he would notbe joining these discussions, industry lobbyists are hoping to push throughTPP talks to finalize the agreement.
What exactly is the TPP? It’s been called one of the most significant international trade agreements since the creation of the World Trade Organization- but you’d be forgiven for not knowing about it. Discussions about this monumental agreement have been so secret that the little we know about the text is from leaked documents- documents that show we have grave reason to be concerned.
One of its most troubling chapters includes an extreme Internet censorship plan that could break your digital future. Here are the top five ways the TPP censors the Internet and why it should concern you:
5. The TPP could criminalize small-scale copyright infringement
The next time you want to share a song or a recipe online, you’d have to ask yourself: Am I a criminal? Interested in writing some fan fiction based on your favourite detective series and sharing it online? Ask yourself that very same question. That’s how TPP provisions could characterize you based on what we know about its Intellectual Property chapter.
According to the leaked drafts, unauthorized small-scale downloading or sharing of copyrighted material could result in severe fines and criminal penalties. Law enforcement could even seize your computer and send you to jail for minor copyright infringement.
4. The TPP could prohibit blind and deaf users from breaking digital locks to access their content
Under the TPP, attempts to circumvent digital locks in order to use your paid-for and legally-acquired media may become illegal. If you are blind, this means you could be criminalized for circumventing digital locks on your purchased e-books and other digital materials in order to convert text to braille, audio, or other accessible formats. If you are a librarian, it may become very difficult to share excerpts of content with students for education purposes, lend out material to the public, or even gain full access to purchased content; and as a consumer of digital media, attempts to make backup copies of that DVD you purchased or transfer your legally-purchased e-book on a different device would become unlawful.
3. The TPP could lead to excessive copyright terms
Copyright, which was originally intended to promote the creation of new works by giving authors certain exclusive rights for a limited time, may be threatened by excessive terms and a rigid system that could stifle creativity and innovation under the TPP.
Under the TPP, e xcessive copyright terms could be created beyond internationally-agreed upon periods; it could also lengthen terms for corporate-owned works. Despite the strong and growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of a rich commons in creating new works, such a rigid copyright regime would stifle creativity and innovation. It would also restrict the limitations and exceptions that member countries could enact, ensuring that countries enact compliant laws in order to avoid trade sanctions.
2. The TPP may regulate temporary copies at the cost of innovation and freedom
Temporary copies, or the small copies that your computer needs to make in order to move data around, are being targeted by TPP lobbyists who are attempting to redefine the very meaning of the word “copy”. The very notion of regulating temporary copies is ludicrous given how basic the creation of temporary copies of files and programs is to computer functioning and the Internet. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes: