Boing Boing 

ACT NOW! Congress wants to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Congress is about to introduce a bill that will let the US Trade Representative lock America into the provisions of the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, without substantial debate or scrutiny -- including criminal sanctions -- jail! -- for downloading TV shows.

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Big Content publishes a love-letter to TPP

The secretive, corrupt, illegitimate Trans-Pacific Partnership would bind its members -- including the USA and Canada -- to criminalize file-sharing, putting people in jail for watching TV the wrong way, and that's just fine with the copyright lobbyist group Global Intellectual Property Center.

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Canada reportedly caves, will extend copyright and yank James Bond out of the public domain

Michael Geist sez, "Last month, there were several Canadian media reports on how the work of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, had entered the public domain. While this was oddly described as a 'copyright quirk', it was no quirk. The term of copyright in Canada (alongside TPP countries such as Japan and New Zealand) is presently life of the author plus an additional 50 years, a term that meets the international standard set by the Berne Convention. Those countries now appear to have caved to U.S. pressure as there are reports that they have agreed to extend to life plus 70 years as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

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WATCH It's Our Future: why the TPP should matter to you

Meghan from Openmedia.ca sez, "The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive international trade agreement that includes 12 countries and covers almost 40% of global GDP. It's big. If you live in the U.S, Canada, Australia, Chile, or New Zealand -- it affects you. But it also affects you if you don't live in one of the 12 countries negotiating the TPP - especially on the issue of Digital Rights."

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NZ Trade Minister: we keep TPP a secret to prevent "public debate"


The Trans Pacific Partnership is the latest in a series of secretly negotiated sweeping "trade deals" that allow companies to sue governments to repeal environmental and labor laws, expand Internet censorship and surveillance, and a host of other nasties.

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Trans Pacific Partnership meeting switched from Vancouver to Ottawa, ducking critics


What could make the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership process even less legit?

Moving it at the last minute, under cover of darkness, from Vancouver to Ottawa, in order to avoid critics of the treaty and how it is being negotiated. The TPP is a secretive treaty that allows corporations to sue governments that enact environmental, health and governmental regulations that interfere with their profits. It also calls for vastly expanded Internet spying and censorship in the name of protecting copyright.

Only trade negotiators and corporate lobbyists are allowed to see the drafts of the agreement (though plenty of these drafts have leaked) -- often times, members of Congress and Parliament are denied access to them, even though the agreement will set out legal obligations that these elected officials will be expected to meet.

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US trade rep demands end to other nations' healthcare, privacy rules, food labelling...


Public Citizen analyzes the new Obama 2014 National Trade Estimate Report, in which the US Trade Rep demands that: Japan abolish its privacy rules and its requirement that food be labelled with its ingredients; Canada abolish its rules limited pharmaceutical patents; Malaysia get rid of its tariffs on pork and booze; Mexico nuke its junk food taxes, and more. It's great reading, and leaves little room for doubt about the neoliberal future, in which anything that's bad for corporate profits -- even if it's good for society or reflects national values -- is killed in the name of free trade.

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Tech companies to Senate Finance Committee chair Wyden: no Fast Track for TPP!

More than 25 tech companies -- including Happy Mutants, LLC, Boing Boing's parent company -- have signed onto a letter asking Senator Ron Wyden (chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) to oppose "Fast Track" for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a secretly negotiated trade agreement that allows for big corporations to trump national law, suing governments that pass regulations that limit their profits; it contains a notoriously harsh chapter on Internet regulation that will allow entertainment companies unprecedented power to surveil, censor, and control the Internet.

The US Trade Representative and the Obama administration have demanded that Congress give "Fast Track" status to the TPP, meaning that they would not be allowed to debate the individual clauses of the bill, and would only be able to vote it up or down. The treaty is likely to have lots of sweeteners that will make it hard for key lawmakers to reject it entirely, a manipulative maneuver that, combined with Fast Track, means that the treaty has a substantial chance of passing, even though it means Congress will be surrendering its power to make laws that impact on massive corporations.

Other signatories to the letter include Reddit, Techdirt, Imgur, Duckduckgo, Ifixit, Cheezburger, Automattic (WordPress), and many others.

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US Trade Rep can't figure out if Trans-Pacific Partnership will protect the environment


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a secretly negotiated trade agreement let by the USA. Though the text is secret, enough drafts have leaked to make it clear that one of its goals is to ensure that foreign corporations can sue governments over laws that impact their profits, especially when it comes to the environment.

The US Trade Representative and the Obama administration have asked Congress to "fast track" the treaty, passing it without any debate or revisions. Naturally, Congress wants to know what the treaty is likely to say before they agree to this.

So in a hearing on Jan 28, Rep Mark Pocan (D-WI) asked Michael Froman -- the US Trade Rep running the TPP show -- about the environmental standards in TPP. Froman listed four areas in TPP that were "absolutely non-negotiable from a US standpoint," including "tough new environmental standards."

When the meeting ended, Pocan asked "So does that mean that if we give you fast track, you won't send us a deal that doesn't have that stuff in it?' At which point, we learned that the US Trade Rep uses a highly specialized meaning for the phrase "absolutely non-negotiable," meaning "totally up for grabs," because he immediately said, "I didn't say that."

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Obama's top Trans-Pacific Partnership officials were given millions by banks before taking the job


The top Obama administration officials working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership came to government from investment banks who will benefit immensely from its provisions, which severely curtail countries' ability to pass laws regulating banks and other corporations. These top advisors, who came from Bank of America and Citigroup, were given multimillion-dollar exit bonuses when they left their employers for government. For example, the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, was handed $4M from Citigroup as a goodbye gift on his way into his new job.

This is standard operating procedure for America's financial industry, where the largest players all have contracts guaranteeing millions to employees who leave the firm for government jobs.

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Save the Internet: Stop Fast Track

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Want to help save democracy? The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a super-secretive trade agreement that threatens everything you care about. It's been negotiated behind closed doors with ample input from over 600 corporate lobbyists -- but no access for journalists or the public. Sound bad? It gets worse. The corporate interest groups pushing for the TPP are the same folks that brought us SOPA, ACTA, and NAFTA."

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Leaked: environmental chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty

Most of our coverage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has focused on its Internet-regulating provisions. But the treaty -- which has been negotiated in unprecedented secrecy, with heavy-handed shoves from the US Trade Representative -- also has disturbing implications for the environment. Today, Wikileaks published a leaked consolidated draft of TPP's environment chapter, which sets out the ways in which corporations will be able to prevent countries from passing environmental laws that interfere with profit making.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership: how the US Trade Rep is hoping to gut Congress with absurd lies

The US Trade Representative is pushing Congress hard for "Trade Promotion Authority," which would give the President's representatives the right to sign treaties like the Trans-Pacific Partnership without giving Congress any chance to oversee and debate the laws that America is promising to pass. With "Trade Promotion Authority" (also called "fast track"), Congress's only role in treaties would be to say "yes" or "no" to whatever the US Trade Rep negotiated -- so if the USTR papered over a bunch of sweetheart deals for political cronies with a single provision that politicians can't afford to say no to, that'll be that.

Not coincidentally, the TPP is one long sweetheart deal with a couple of political sweeteners that no Congresscritter can afford to kill.

The USTR's push for Trade Promotion Authority contains some of the stupidest, easy-to-debunk lies I've ever read. Either the Obama Administration figures that Congress is thicker than pigshit, or the USTR drafted this to give tame Congresscritters cover for selling out the people they represent to the corporations that fund their campaigns.

Techdirt's Mike Masnick has undertaken the unpleasant chore of documenting and rebutting the Trade Rep's falsehoods point-by-point.

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Public Domain Day 2014: bad times ahead, urgent action needed

It's Public Domain day again -- the day when music, books and movies enter the public domain in countries where copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 50 years (hint: not the USA).

But as John Mark Ockerbloom points out, the list of life+50 countries keeps getting shorter, as more and more countries are arm-twisted into extending their copyright terms by the US Trade Representative. And increasingly, countries are passing regressive copyright laws that take works out of the public domain and put them back into copyright -- an insane policy that ends up criminalizing new art that incorporates the old, and that provides no new incentive to create (give Elvis or the Beatles 50 more years of copyright if you like, they're still not going to record any more music).

It's not all bad news: between the Hathi Trust lawsuit (which held it legal to scan old, in-copyright books under some circumstances) and the growth of Creative Commons licenses.

There's urgent work to be done. We need to fight copyright term extension, to expand fair use and fair dealing, increase access to orphan works, and discredit and destroy the new practice of making global copyright law through secretive treaty negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Open Knowledge Foundation are all working to bring copyright into line with the modern world, and to stop its from being used for censorship and surveillance.

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Secretive TPP treaty could kill creator's right to get copyrights back from studios, labels and publishers

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has new analysis of the leaked Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, a secretive trade deal being hammered out without any public oversight, and set to be fast-tracked through the US Congress without substantial debate. EFF's piece focuses on the treaty's provisions that affect "termination rights," an obscure but important part of copyright law that allows creators to take their assigned copyrights back from the companies who bought them after 35 years. The studios, labels and publishers hate this, as it allows creators who scored big hits early in their careers when they were getting paid peanuts for their work to take those successful works back and re-sell them at a more appropriate price. EFF's view is that the TPP draft endangers Termination Rights.

It's more proof that just because many creators are on the side of the big entertainment companies, it doesn't follow that the companies are on the side of their creators. Any creator who endorses TPP, thinking that expansions to copyright will always benefit them, had better look again: TPP is a way of taking away one of the most valuable rights that creators have and handing it over to Big Content to make billions off of.

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Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership sucks: short, funny animation

Spocko sez, "Here's a short animated video explaining why the Trans-Pacific Partnership sucks. starring my imitation of Ross Perot! Remember, Ross knew all about the 'Giant sucking sound from the South' that became NAFTA. I pulled concepts from both the left and the right to inform this video."

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How the TPP will gut environmental protection


I've posted a bunch about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a shadowy, secretive trade deal that will have a disastrous effect on the Internet, privacy and free speech, thanks to the brutal copyright provisions the US Trade Rep has crammed into it. But that's not the whole story.

Michael sez, "You might be interested to know the TPP looks terrible for environmental protection too, due to a proposed mechanism called 'investor-state arbitration'. Basically this'd allow investors to sue countries for passing legislation detrimental to the financial interests of those investors. Yep, think environmental protections, workers' rights laws and any other kind of public protection that might reduce a profit margin.

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Data visualization shows US isolation in pushing for brutal Trans-Pacific Partnership


Gabriel Michael, a PhD candidate at George Washington University, subjected the IP Chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaked by Wikileaks last week to statistical analysis. The leaked draft has extensive footnotes indicating each country's negotiating positions. By analyzing the frequency with which the US appears as the sole objector to other nations' positions, and when the US is the sole proponent of clauses to which other nations object, Michael was able to show that TPP really is an American-run show pushing an American agenda, not a multilateral trade deal being negotiated to everyone's mutual benefit. Though Canada is also one of the main belligerents, with even more unilateral positions than the USA.

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TPP's worst evil: making all future copyright reform impossible

In an excellent editorial, Michael Masnick explains what's so nefarious about the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- the secretive trade treaty whose IP chapter leaked yesterday. As Masnick explains, the worst aspect of this treaty is that it locks in all of our present, overreaching copyright rules, effectively making it impossible for Congress and the Copyright Office to continue their present work on modernizing copyright for the digital age, and ensuring that they can never do so in future:

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Wikileaks publishes the "Internet Chapter" of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (SOPA's back)

Wikileaks has published the Internet Chapter of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade-deal negotiated between corporate leaders and government reps without any democratic oversight (the US Trade Rep wouldn't share TPP drafts with Congress, and now it is headed for fast-tracking into law). TorrentFreak has parsed out the text, and compares it to SOPA, the brutal US copyright law that collapsed in the face of massive public protest. The treaty is reportedly at a "negotiated stalemate" thanks to the US Trade Rep, who has refused to bend on treaty provisions that other nations objected to.

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NYT endorses brutal, secret, Internet-destroying corporatist TPP trade-deal; write to your lawmaker to fight it

The New York Times has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership; a trade deal negotiated in utmost secrecy, without public participation, whose text is still not public. From leaks, we know that TPP wasn't just anti-democratic in its process -- it also contains numerous anti-democratic provisions that allow private offshore companies to overturn domestic law, especially laws that allow for free speech and privacy online. TPP is slated for fast-tracking through Congress, minimizing any scrutiny of a deal negotiated behind closed doors before it is turned into law. From what we've seen of TPP, it recapitulates all the worst elements of ACTA and then some. The Electronic Frontier Foundation needs you to write to your lawmaker demanding full and public debate on TPP.

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Which Congresscritters want to sell out the America's laws to offshore copyright giants?

Since the Bush administration, successive US Trade Representatives have favored secret treaties, made outside of the UN, without any public scrutiny or accountability. Treaties like ACTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership introduce brutal regimes of surveillance, censorship, criminalization, and control in the name of preventing copyright infringement. Only one problem: even if the USTR signs up to the agreement, Congress still has to approve it.

But not for long. A clutch of rogue Congresscritters have introduced legislation that would let the president unilaterally sign the US up to trade agreements that would require changes to US law, without any oversight or debate from America's lawmakers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Maira Sutton has named-and-shamed the lawmakers who're rushing to abandon their duty and hand unchecked power over to the administrative branch. They're heavily funded by the entertainment industry, and publicly committed to undermining democratic, transparent process in favor of back-room deals brokered in the service of multinational corporations. Read on to learn their names, then visit EFF's action center to find out how you can fight the undemocratic "Trade Promotion Authority."

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Prominent politicians and negotiators in poor countries speak out against TPP


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a sweeping, secret global treaty that sets out many corporatist policies by which countries surrender their national interest and sovereignty in favor of corporations, who get to violate local regulations and rules and sue countries that try to enforce them. A lot of the opposition to TPP has centered on its insane copyright provisions (leaked TPP drafts have included things like mandatory border-searches of laptops and phones for pirated music and movies; as well as "three-strikes" rules like the failed French HADOPI system, whereby whole families would be disconnected from the Internet if their router was linked to unsubstantiated claims of piracy). But increasingly, the participating countries are growing nervous with the whole premise of TPP.

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Congressman gets a look at secret Trans-Pacific Partnership draft: "This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests"

Rep Alan Grayson (D-FL) is the first Congresscritter to get a look at the text of the super-secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently being negotiated by Obama's US Trade Representative (the Obama administration, like the Bush admin before it, claims that the President has the authority to negotiate and enter into trade agreements without Congress's approval). The TPP has been controversial, as several leaked drafts and discussion documents have shown that the entertainment industry has used it as a vehicle for attempting to win brutal Internet and PC rules, including hard-drive searches at the border, surveillance and censorship powers, and more.

Grayson was dismayed by what he saw in the current draft of the bill, and has affirmed Senator Warren's remark that "If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States."

The TPP is nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids.” Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.

1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].

(Well, I did promise to tell you only two things about it.)

I will be fighting this agreement with everything I’ve got. And I know you’ll be there every step of the way.

For now, I’ve set up an e-mail address where you can ask me questions on this topic or other topics: askalan@graysonforcongress.com

I Saw the Secret Trade Deal (via Reddit)

Sen Warren to US Trade Rep: release the Trans-Pacific Partnership docs - if they piss the people off, then we shouldn't be part of it

Senator Elizabeth Warren has written an open letter to Michael Froma, the nominee to run the US Trade Representative's office, calling on him to release the text and negotiating documents for the secretive, controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), whose sweeping and brutal copyright provisions make it clear that this is the next attempt to pass SOPA and ACTA -- the US law and international treaty that flamed out in 2012.

“I appreciate the willingness of the USTR to make various documents available for review by members of Congress, but I do not believe that is a substitute for more robust public transparency,” Warren wrote to Froman, who is now an assistant to the president. “If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”

Senator Warren Presses White House to Release Pacific Trade Text [Mark Drajem/BusinessWeek] (via Reddit)

EFF beats the Trans Pacific Partnership to Peru, sounds the alarm about upcoming brutal, secret copyright treaty meeting

Danny O'Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez,

The latest round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership starts today in Lima, Peru. Embedded in the trade agreement is an IP chapter that, according to leaks, exports the worst of US copyright law -- DRM blocks, extended copyright terms, ISPs as copyright cops -- without even of the judicial and constitutional counterbalances that US activists have fought so hard for.

In such a giant trade agreement, the Internet issues have sometime risked getting ignored by the mainstream press, and missed by the techies who'd be most affected.

But EFF's international rights director, Katitza Rodriguez, is Peruvian. She's spent the the last month working out of Lima's Escuelab hackerspace, talking to hackers, makers, journalists and artists about the dangers of IP chapter. The result has been petitions, memes, and videos, as well as meetings with politicians and articles in the Peruvian press.

We Beat Them to Lima: Opening a New Front Against Secret IP Treaties (Thanks, Danny!)

What's big, corrupt, terrifying and worse than ACTA? TPP. Here we go again!


Remember ACTA, the terrifying, secret SOPA-on-steroids copyright treaty that the US government tried to ram down the world's throat? Well, it's back, only this time it's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it's limited (for now) to the Pacific Rim. The TPP negotiators are meeting (in secret, natch) in Peru to twirl their mustaches and cackle, and EFF has posted a great infographic summing up their nefarious plan (see the whole thing after the jump):

The TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law to Pacific Rim countries: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on devices and creative works (even for legal purposes), a minimum copyright term of the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years (the current international norm is the lifetime plus fifty years), privatization of enforcement for copyright infringement, ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement. Moreover, the TPP is worst than U.S. copyright rules: it does not export the many balances and exceptions that favor the public interest and act as safety valves in limiting rightsholders’ protection. Adding insult to injury, the TPP's temporary copies provision will likely create chilling effects on how people and companies behave online and their basic ability to use and create on the Web.

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Canadian government trying to launder secret copyright treaties into law

Michael Geist sez, "The Canadian Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology released its report on the Intellectual Property Regime in Canada yesterday. While most the recommendations are fairly innocuous, the report involves a classic case of policy laundering as the government has fabricated support for the Canada - EU Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provisions that were not even raised at committee. The report recommends ratifying four intellectual property treaties, despite the fact the treaties weren't discussed before committee.

"Why? Leaked versions of CETA and TPP both include requirements to ratify them. Should Canada reach agreement on CETA or the TPP, the committee report will presumably be used by the government to short-circuit further review on those treaties or to simply claim support for ratification on the basis on a committee recommendation that was secretly fabricated behind closed doors without any witness raising the issue during the public hearings."

Industry Committee Report on Intellectual Property: A Case of Policy Laundering for CETA and TPP

Public interest groups fly to Auckland, NZ to meet with TPP negotiators, are only allowed in the building to give a 15-minute joint presentation

Having been promised a chance to meet with the delegates at the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership treaty meeting in New Zealand, a representatives from nonprofit public interest groups around the world flew to Auckland. Once they arrived, the TPP announced that they would be granted 15 minutes, total, for all of the groups to make a statement.

TPP is a sweeping copyright treaty, a kind of ACTA on steroids, being conducted without any public scrutiny or input -- only governments and giant corporations are welcome in the negotiating room. It has profound implications for the future of medicine, Internet regulation, and privacy and surveillance.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is one of the groups that sent a representative to Auckland. They've published an open letter signed by the public interest coalition protesting their shabby treatment at the hands of TPP's administrators.

Academics, experts, consumer groups, Internet freedom organizations, libraries, educational institutions, patients and access to medicines groups have flown a long way from around the world to Auckland, New Zealand, to engage with delegates in the 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

For the first time, however, we have been locked out of the entire venue, except for a single day out of the 10 days of negotiations. This not only alienates us as members of public interest groups, but also the hundreds of thousands of innovators, educators, patients, students, and Internet users who have sent messages to government representatives expressing their concerns with the TPP. All of us oppose the complete unjustifiable secrecy around the negotiations, but more importantly, the IP provisions that could potentially threaten our rights, and innovation.

These new physical restrictions on us are reflective of the ongoing lack of transparency that has plagued the TPP negotiations from the very beginning.

Digital Rights Groups Shut Out of Secret TPP Negotiations

LEAKED! TPP: the Son of ACTA will oblige America and other countries to throw out privacy, free speech and due process for easier copyright enforcement


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the son of ACTA, a secretive copyright and trade treaty being negotiated by the Pacific Rim nations, including the USA and Canada. As with ACTA, the secretive negotiation process means that the treaty's provisions represent an extremist corporate agenda where due process, privacy and free expression are tossed out the window in favor of streamlined copyright enforcement. If this passes, America will have a trade obligation to implement all the worst stuff in SOPA, and then some. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Carolina Rossini and Kurt Opsahl explain:

TPP article 16.3 mandates a system of ISP liability that goes beyond DMCA standards and U.S. case law. In sum, the TPP pushes a framework beyond ACTA[1] and possibly the spirit of the DMCA, since it opens the doors for:

* Three-strikes policies and laws that require Internet intermediaries to terminate their users’ Internet access on repeat allegations of copyright infringement

* Requirements for Internet intermediaries to filter all Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material

* ISP obligations to block access to websites that allegedly infringe or facilitate copyright infringement

* Efforts to force intermediaries to disclose the identities of their customers to IP rightsholders on an allegation of copyright infringement.

Incredibly, it gets worse:

If the copyright maximalists have their way, the TPP will include a “side-letter,” an agreement annexed to the TPP to bind the countries to strict procedures enabling copyright owners to insist material are removed from the Internet. This strict notice-and-takedown regime is not new—in 2004, Chile rejected the same proposal in its bi-lateral trade agreement with the United States. Without the shackles of the proposed requirements, Chile then implemented a much more balanced takedown procedure in its 2010 Copyright Law, which provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy than the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s copyright safe harbor regime.

Instead of ensuring due process and judicial involvement in takedowns, the TPP proposal encourages the spread of models that have been proven inefficient and have chilling unintended consequences, such as the HADOPI Law in France or the DMCA.

TPP Creates Legal Incentives For ISPs To Police The Internet. What Is At Risk? Your Rights.