October 13, 2015
WikiLeaks has released what it says is the complete intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. With its release, some digital rights activists say their worst fears have been realized. They’re referring to one portion that says any of the 12 signatory countries can curtail legal proceedings to tamp down the public spread of embarrassing information, and a legal action from any signatory can force all signatories to block any online content/website rules to be infringing copyright.
According to The Guardian, the treaty allows the signatories to “curtail legal proceedings” if the theft of information is “detrimental to a party’s economic interests, international relations, or national defense or national security.” Elsewhere, the treaty states that, “every country has the authority to immediately give the name and address of anyone importing detained goods to whoever owns the intellectual property.”
Motherboard explains that, with regard to blocking websites, Canada retained its process of notifying all parties before an action is taken. But ISPs “must ‘remove or disable access’ to content upon ‘becoming aware’ of a decision by a court that says the content infringes copyright.” Internet legal expert Michael Geist adds that a court order could emanate from any TPP signatory.
“That means that if a U.S. court were to, say, find that a popular filesharing website was distributing copyrighted Hollywood movies, ISPs in all TPP countries would be compelled to block access to that site,” Geist adds. U.S. negotiators appear to have been successful in pushing for extended copyright term of 70 years plus the life of the author, which, again, would apply to all signatories.
The rest of the closely guarded agreement will be released in the coming months. TPP, which will have to be approved by all signatories, is also facing a tough Congressional vote, notes The Guardian, where “President Obama’s opponents on the right argue the agreement does not do enough for business while opponents on the left argue it does too much.”