Businesses and Public Interest Groups Challenge Copyright Proposals on International Trade Agreement

July 9, 2014

Today, Public Knowledge, its partners in the global Our Fair Deal coalition, and a diverse international network of businesses, creators, innovators, start-ups, educators, libraries, archives, and users released two new open letters to negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a highly secretive, supranational agreement reported to include copyright provisions that could significantly constrain access to information, impede legitimate online activity and innovation, and impair freedom of expression online.  

Members of the Our Fair Deal coalition are especially concerned that rules proposed in the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the TPP would reduce the ability of ordinary people to access information – seriously hindering innovation both on and offline. Copyright provisions remain a major sticking point for the negotiations, and the coalition has warned negotiators about the negative impacts these provisions would have on their respective countries.

In the two letters released and delivered to negotiators today, we bring to the attention of countries involved the chilling effects of expanding copyright terms and calling on Internet providers to privately police the Internet. Each of these letters is endorsed by a separate group of signatories representing those most deeply impacted by the proposed changes.

Copyright term extension

The 20-year extension of the term of copyright protection in the United States in 1998 confounded economists and frustrated students, teachers, librarians, archivists, and consumers who were consequently starved of new public domain works until 2019. Now the USA intends to compound its error by extending it to all of the other TPP negotiating countries—or at least, those that haven't already yielded to bilateral pressure to extend their copyright terms. As the letter below explains, this would be an assault on the public domain and on those libraries, authors, educators, users, and others who depend upon it.

The letter on copyright term extension has been endorsed by 35 organizations and associations so far, including some US based organizations, such as Wikimedia Foundation TBC, Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Consumers International.

Intermediary copyright enforcement

As the we explain in other the letter, countries around the Pacific rim are being pressured to agree to proposed text for the TPP that would require them to adopt a replica of the DMCA that would takedown online material after a mere allegation of copyright infringement by a claimed rights-holder. Indeed, industry lobbyists are pushing for an even stricter regime, dubbed “notice and staydown,” that would make it harder than ever for users and innovators to safely publish creative, transformational content online.

The letter on intermediary copyright enforcement has been endorsed by more than 45 organizations and associations so far, including some US based organizations, namely the Internet Archive, O'Reilly Media, Open Media, and the Electronic Foundation Frontier (EFF).

Join This Effort

Although the letters were presented to TPP negotiators today, July 9, 2014, they remain open for further signatories to express their support, and may be presented again in future negotiation rounds and related events. Interested organizations can endorse the open letters on copyright term extension and intermediary liability using the links provided.

For individuals who are not affiliated with a company or organization, we encourage them to take action through the Our Fair Deal coalition's petition.