Today, President Trump announced that the United States has reached an agreement in principle with Mexico during negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including a variety of provisions on intellectual property. At present, Public Knowledge understands that the agreement would require a minimum copyright term amounting to the life of the author plus 75 years. If enacted, this would effectively extend the copyright terms in existing U.S. law.
The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:
“The inclusion of a copyright term extension in the trade agreement announced today is a staggeringly brazen attempt by the entertainment industries to launder unpopular policies through international agreements. Not only would a copyright term extension never survive domestic debate, but it also violates the instructions Congress gave in trade promotion authority, which directed the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate intellectual property provisions consistent with existing law. This is a slap in the face to the public interest, to consumers, and to Congress.
“So far, the IP chapter of this new agreement appears heavily slanted in favor of big corporate rightsholders. Americans deserve a trade agreement that fosters innovation, creation, and the free flow of knowledge by recognizing necessary exceptions and limitations to copyright. Copyright terms are already absurdly long. Extending them even further is totally unnecessary, and will only shrink the public domain while making problems like orphan works even worse. This gift to the big entertainment interests is impossible to justify under the constitutional purpose of copyright, which is to ‘promote the progress of science and useful arts.’
“We call on Congress to demand that the administration publish the currently agreed-upon text. Congress should carefully study the agreement, including whether it is consistent with TPA, and reject unfair and unreasonable giveaways to the entertainment industries.”