The TPP agreement threatens to extend the restrictive intellectual property (IP) across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. There  are two major problems:

(a) IP chapter: Leaked drafts of the agreement show negative ramifications for user’s freedom of speech

(b) Lack of transparency

The TPP contains a chapter on IP covering copyright, trademarks and patents. The U.S. negotiators are pushing for adoption of copyright measures which are far more restrictive than currently required for international trades. All the signatory countries in the TPP will need to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the agreement. The leaked US-proposed IP chapter includes provisions which go beyond the current US law.

(a) Place greater liability on internet intermediaries: The TPP would force adoption of internet intermediaries. Chile is looking  to rewrite its 2010 copyright law which provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy.

(b) Escalate protection for Digital locks: It will enact laws banning circumvention of digital locks that mirror DCMA(Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and TPM (technological protection measures) provisions as separate offenses when no copyright infringement is involved. This would require New Zealand to rewrite its 2008 copyright law and Australia’s carefully crafted 2007 TPM regime to be overridden.

(c) Create new threats for Journalists and Whistle blowers: Misuse of trade secrets will lead to harsher criminal punishments against anyone who reveals or accesses information which is confidential.

(d) Expand copyright terms: The TPP could extend copyright term protections from life of author + 50 years to Life + 70 years for individuals and either 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation for corporate owned works.

(e) Enact “3-Step test” that puts restrictions on fair use: The US and Australia have proposed very restrictive text while countries like Chile, New Zealand and Malaysia have proposed more flexible and user-friendly terms.

(f) Adopt criminal sanctions: Users could be jailed or hit with fines over file sharing and may have their domains seized even without formal complaint.

So how does TPP affect us?

The TPP Agreement raises significant concerns about citizen’s freedom of speech, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws. The TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights to access knowledge for the world’s citizens. The TPP will affect countries beyond the 12 that are currently involved and will create new heightened global IP enforcement norms.