Later this month, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will launch their sixth round of negotiations for the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Recent news coverage has focused on whether the Trump administration will withdraw from the agreement or not. As civil society continues to be excluded from this process, there is still little information about actual intellectual property proposals, but the position of Public Knowledge remains unchanged: trade agreements must promote a balanced copyright system that serves the public interest.
Today, Public Knowledge (PK) publishes a substantive analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While PK does not take a position on whether trade agreements in general are good or bad as a matter of public policy, we do evaluate whether individual trade agreements affect PK’s ability to promote its mission. If an agreement benefits our policy goals we will support it, and if it undermines our mission we will oppose it. It is true, however, that PK has consistently decried the lack of openness and transparency surrounding the negotiation of trade agreements and has recommended significant reforms to the process of deliberating trade policy to give the public a more meaningful voice in evaluating the elements of trade agreements before they are completed.
Earlier this week, Public Knowledge and 15 other global civil society groups sent a letter to the officials of the various governments that will meet and finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provisions next week, urging them to rewrite parts of the trade agreement’s current intellectual property chapter. This is Public Knowledge’s latest effort to warn governments and the public of the harmful aspects of the TPP, which has been secretly negotiated among government officials behind closed doors. Recently, we sent letters to the United States Trade Representative and even alerted the White House to the TPP’s potential chilling effects on the right to knowledge and fair use as well as copyright reform efforts of Congress and the Copyright Office.
Today, Public Knowledge sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman urging him to protect the rights of American consumers of intellectual property goods. Public Knowledge remains concerned that provisions in the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement could harm Americans by weakening exceptions and limitations available under U.S. law, including fair use.
Today, Public Knowledge joins the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, the Internet Archive, and more than 7,000 internet users in urging Congress to oppose a new version of trade promotion authority, commonly called Fast Track, that overlooks critical guarantees of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability.