Trans-Pacific Partnership is an opportunity to defend and promote IP, not the opposite
Nov 18, 2013
Last Wednesday Wikileaks released an old draft chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), dated August 30, 2013, which focuses on intellectual property. The next round of negotiations will start again today, November 19, 2013 in Salt Lake City (Utah). The TPP is an agreement currently being negotiated by representatives of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia and New Zealand.
The release of the IP chapter is a deliberate attempt to undermine the negotiations, the main goal of which is to strengthen free market economies in the above-mentioned countries. Predictably, we have seen breathless reactions from free trade and IP opponents who took the opportunity to suggest that the TPP is a vehicle to suppress Internet freedom or surreptitiously revive the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
However, this wave of criticism is demonstrably misleading and irresponsible. As the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman recently stated, “There is no agreement right now.” Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, and nothing will be agreed to until 3 a.m. on the last night of negotiations.” Froman’s statement is clearly verified given that most of the leaked IP chapter is in brackets, meaning there is no agreement on the language.
Additionally, we reject the assertions by critics that the TPP will change U.S. IP Law. No free Trade Agreement’s this century have required such changes. The leaked document merely demonstrates that the U.S. government is seeking protections that are consistent with current US law, no more. As Froman noted, “our goal through these trade negotiations is to make sure we are raising the standard of protection around the world, for artists and the people who support them.”
The Property Rights Alliance (PRA) supports free trade agreements among countries that promote and defend intellectual property rights, which are fundamental to the US economy. In fact, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) today released a study which finds that the copyright industries, for the first time, contributed over $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, accounting for nearly 6.5% of GDP and nearly 5% of all private-sector jobs (5.4 million) in the U.S. To that end, the USTR is seeking to include responsible IP protections which are consistent with US law. Assertions by critics that the TPP will somehow “break the Internet” are a deliberate mischaracterization meant to advance their own political agenda, which includes weakening IP protections both in the US and abroad, and are nothing more than a cynical fantasy.
As David Hirschmann, President and CEO of the Global Intellectual Property Center said, “By achieving a high standard IP chapter in trade agreements, we set up a win-win. It ensures access to life-saving medicines and amazing technologies for consumers around the world, and promotes trade that expands economies for all parties.”