What are the implications of the recently leaked draft of the TPP intellectual property rights chapter?


First it is a draft text. Negotiations like these go through dozens if not hundreds of draft texts. Each one can change things drastically – or just be updated punctuation. This could be one which has been tossed, or one which is about to be released as the official version. No way to know really from what I’ve seen.

Second, These treaties often have a huge amount of lee-way. This allows Pro-Copyright parties to claim victory and Anti-Copyright Parties to claim the sky is falling. An example of this might be text which states “And the Government shall take all reasonable actions to enforce the Copyright Provisions laid out in the above.”

A reasonable action would vary from state-to-state. In Canada, for example, jail time for copyright infringement is unlikely to be found constitutional (IMO). More likely the punishment wouldn’t vary much from the current laws in Western Countries – these sections are mostly aimed at Africa/Third world places where infringement is rampant and no controls are enforced. It also “sets the bar” for countries looking to join the TPP by providing some guidelines to work by.

The biggest implication is that Copyright laws may be extended so that works gain even more copyright protection. Twitter as example is (unlike most of the other assertions) broadly correct that copyright at this point is a harmful mechanic in society. Without getting into a rant, TPP or similar treaties all generally see an alignment “upwards” of standards within member nations. A good example of this is Canada, when it signed a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, added two years of Patent protection to medicine so that it and the EU were the same. You could expect similar provisions within the TPP to avoid any state undermining others.

This is all very broad, but that is because I wouldn’t get into the sky-is-falling basket until you have a real text in hand. Understand that Governments negotiate in private to avoid this sensation – for example, one provision might look very deadly alone, but your Government may only have agreed to it because you were gaining several other concessions for it which seem mild and garnish no attention.

I know you don’t want links, but I would recommend reading the top entry on this blog: http://www.michaelgeist.ca

Michael Geist is a Law Professor at the University of Ottawa and holds a view social media as Twitter would generally agree with. I highly recommend giving it a read as it is relatively brief.

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