[A2k] Dave Thier in Forbes: The TPP is the Next Battleground in the War Over the Internet
thiru at keionline.org
Mon Feb 6 07:45:37 PST 2012
Dave Thier, Contributor
I write about video games and technology.
2/01/2012 @ 8:04PM |1,880 views
The TPP is the Next Battleground in the War Over the Internet
The internet may have been very quick to rest on its laurels after the successful opposition to SOPA. First there was the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, a highly restrictive, multi-national law that looked a lot like SOPA and covered everything from music downloads to crops. That bill saw much of the same opposition that SOPA, and eventually saw some its most controversial provisions watered down in the final draft.
But there doesn’t seem to be any end: now, the fight over piracy on the internet moves East. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is the newest legislation being fought over in the increasingly heated war for the internet. It’s being negotiated in nine-country talks that include the U.S., Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Peru, Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore.
It’s a familiar story: supporters say that intellectual property provisions are necessary to fight piracy, and critics are calling them draconian, over-reaching and oppressive. And like ACTA, critics are decrying TPP for being negotiated behind closed doors — on Wednesday, negotiators met in a Hollywood restaurant veiled in secrecy. At Ars Technica, Nate Anderson writes about American University Professor Sean Flynn, who claims that a hotel near the negotiations had been explicitly asked not to allow public interest groups to hold meetings on the day of the negotiations.
Last year, versions of the TPP’s US-written IP chapter leaked; its provisions went well beyond even ACTA, which was already the new high-water mark for IP enforcement. Where do things stand now? Are the other TPP countries on board with the US approach? Who knows! It’s all secret.
While ACTA at least claimed not to exceed US law, Flynn and other professors allege that the leaked TPP IP chapter does go beyond what’s in US law, doing things like extending copyright protection even to temporary “buffer” copies so crucial to digital devices.
Some of the strongest opposition is coalescing around the IP provisions, but the TPP is a broad agreement that will stretch into all aspects of international trade — and groups have already raised their concerns about some other industries. In Tokyo, hundreds of Japanese citizens protested in Tokyo, saying that cheap Us imports could hamstring Japan’s already weak agricultural sector, and a number of U.S. congresspeople have also expressed deep concerns over what effect the agreement might have on generic brands of prescription drugs.
What’s becoming clear is that Intellectual Property provisions are becoming a part of the basic negotiations of international trade, and neither lawmakers nor free-internet advocates are going to let this one drop. TPP may be the battleground now, but this question isn’t going to go away.
Earlier today, file-sharing website The Pirate Bay called 2012 “The Year of the Storm,” referring to the growing tension between internet activists and lawmakers. It’s started off hot, with the shutdown of Megaupload and the fight over SOPA, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to calm down any time soon.
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