Even more secret negotiations to further the aims multinational corporate globalists have been ongoing in resorts outside Washington, DC. Press, citizenry, and even lawmakers were unable to gain entry or answers concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), which concerns international trade and copyright laws that will supersede any individual country’s court system or fair use, putting the internet, privacy, and free speech at risk.
The stakeholder engagement events in the morning were followed by a stakeholder briefing in the afternoon. The briefing allowed registered individuals from civil society and the public to ask questions of and make comments to eight out of the nine negotiators who represent a TPP country. The press was barred from the room. Roughly 25 people rose from the audience to ask questions to the trade delegates during the 90-minute briefing period. As predicted, they were not transparent about the talks, revealed little new information, and delegates also refused to make any comments based on leaked version of texts—the only text EFF and other public interest organizations have had access to. It is difficult for public stakeholders to ask accurate questions or receive any substantive answers when the content of the agreement continues to be shrouded in secrecy.
Rossini asked the USTR about its claims that the TPP’s intellectual property chapter will provide for fair use in its IP chapter, and how those public statements starkly contrast with the recent leaked TPP chapter that shows that the US delegation is in fact pushing for provisions that will restrict non-US countries from enacting fair use. Further, they neglected to comment on the fact that the leaked test has the potential to limit US fair use to the three-step test restrictions.In response, the lead negotiator for the USTR dodged the question and stated that they would not comment on issues raised by text EFF has “purportedly” received. The representative did acknowledge that fair use would be discussed during the week’s meetings.
The last question of the briefing came from EFF’s International Intellectual Property Coordinator, Maira Sutton, who raised from the crowd and asked the lead negotiator how they justify pushing for ever more restrictive copyright laws in the agreement even though it has become clear, with the defeat of ACTA in Europe, that users are sick and tired of international agreements regulating their Internet through overprotective intellectual property provisions (see video below). In response, the lead negotiator for the US stated that the standard for copyright regulation in international agreements has been the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). They claimed that the DMCA was legislated fairly and is an effective model for copyright enforcement in the US. The representatives’ answer contradicted the fact that EFF and others have been arguing for years that the DMCA is fraught with problems. Sutton responded that based upon what we saw in the recent leaked text on fair use, developing countries would not be able to implement such copyright laws as soundly given that the three-step test language restricts signatory nations from determining and establishing fair use as they see fit.
Agreements like TPP and ACTA chill online expression, prevent access to knowledge, and impede our freedom to innovate. The way to fight back is to make your voice heard: to demand an open transparent process that allows everyone, from experts to civil society members, to analyze, question, and probe any initiatives to regulate the Internet. The secrecy must be stopped once and for all.