Recently, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer published a summary of the Trump Administration’s objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Public Knowledge finds that these objectives will harm American consumers and innovators.
Dear USTR, copyright
has meaningful non-economic and social value; keep it out of the U.S.-E.U. Free
Trade Agreement. If you have to have it, make sure it protects all Americans
and not just large content owners. (And make the agreement transparent and
inclusive while you’re at it.)
Today we filed comments about the proposed United
States-European Union Free Trade Agreement – the Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership (TTIP). We told the Office of the United States Trade
Representative (USTR) that copyright is an uncomfortable fit for a trade
agreement and should be kept out of the TTIP.
If the USTR still wants to include copyright within the TTIP,
it should make sure that a copyright chapter in the TTIP will not impede Congress’s
ability to change U.S. copyright laws.
We also asked the USTR to break from the past and not
negotiate the TTIP in secret.
Several people have raised the specter of trade agreements standing in the way of cell phone unlocking. The basic idea is that, in a broad trade negotiation between the US and South Korea (and in a number of others), the two countries agreed to make sure their copyright laws had certain similar features. Among those were requirements that they have laws against breaking digital locks to access copyrighted works, and that they only have certain kinds of exemptions to them. Cell phone unlocking is not one of the specific exemptions.
Mike Masnick at Techdirt characterizes this (at least in the article's title) as the US "signing away" its ability to enact a more permanent exemption for phone unlocking.
The debate over transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) rages on. Yesterday the US Trade Representative (USTR) released a fact sheet on transparency in the TPP negotiations. The fact sheet basically summarizes how the USTR perceives its transparency efforts to date and how it responds to outcry from members of Congress and the public that the level of secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations is unacceptable.
While this fact sheet is better than no response at all, it does little to address substantive concerns about secrecy in TPP and in fact only shows how public input and accountability is directly dependent on the open availability of substantive information about the TPP's proposed text.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) just recently announced that it
will accommodate both formal presentations and less structured events
for stakeholders in the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
negotiations. This is a promising step forward for the USTR's public
engagement efforts, even though it cannot solve the serious problems
caused by the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations.