Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Leaked I.P.R. Chapter The Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Wikileaks has just released one of the 29 key chapters of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The 95-page document, chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states. 

The chapter is all about the IPR: Intellectual Property Rights. This chapter was distributed among the chief negotiators by the US trade representatives following the 19th round of talks in Brunei at the end of August 2013. The next round of talks will be held at Salt Lake City, Utah from next Tuesday to Sunday (19-24 November). 

"The TPP negotiations are currently at a critical stage. The Obama administration is preparing to fast-track the TPP treaty in a manner that will prevent the US Congress from discussing or amending any parts of the treaty. Numerous TPP heads of state and senior government figures, including President Obama, have declared their intention to sign and ratify the TPP before the end of 2013." - Wikileaks

The longest section of the chapter is in regards to enforcement. Malaysia is designated as MY, and there are noted remarks on which country proposes, agrees or opposes to the list of clauses / subjects under the chapter itself. Jumping straight to enforcement  (Section 8 of the document): 

Example: if there is a case of infringement of trademark, the country is obligated to provide "personal information" of the person(s) or entities alleged to be committing that to be sued for damages by the copyright holder. For certain countries, the damages can be determined by the holder.

For infringement via digital technology, not even Internet Service Providers are spared from the potential spilled liability that could be incurred.

Quoting from KEI's brief analysis:

The document confirms fears that the negotiating parties are prepared to expand the reach of intellectual property rights, and shrink consumer rights and safeguards. 

Compared to existing multilateral agreements, the TPP IPR chapter proposes the granting of more patents, the creation of intellectual property rights on data, the extension of the terms of protection for patents and copyrights, expansions of right holder privileges, and increases in the penalties for infringement. The TPP text shrinks the space for exceptions in all types of intellectual property rights. Negotiated in secret, the proposed text is bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine, and profoundly bad for innovation.

The text reveals that the most anti-consumer and anti-freedom country in the negotiations is the United States, taking the most extreme and hard-line positions on most issues. But the text also reveals that several other countries in the negotiation are willing to compromise the public’s rights, in a quest for a new trade deal with the United States.

In Julian Assange's summary: “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

Assange mused during the live session: "I think this release could be kill the deal."

The session ended at 10.21 pm local time.

Full leaked chapter (here) and analysis (here) by KEI


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