EFA considers the leaked Intellectual Property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to represent looming disaster for Australian citizens. Not only are the secret negotiations deplorable, as is Australia's almost total agreement with the US positions, but if passed, its provisions will severely restrict choice, increase prices, and reduce freedom of expression.
EFA agrees with many comments collected by Phillip Dorling in his article in The Age today. Greens Senator Scott Ludlam's has decribed the TPP as "hugely dangerous". Dr Matthew Rimmer has described it as "a Christmas wish-list for major corporations [...] with little focus on the rights and interests of consumers, let alone broader community interests".
EFA will comment more on the TPP later today, but as an example of just one major problem with the chapter, the concept of "fair use" appears just once in the entire TPP Advanced Intellectual Property Chapter for All 12 Nations with Negotiating Positions released by Wikileaks last night. Even then, the concept is not proposed as a positive right but as a secondary consideration after the rights of IP holders:
Each Party may provide limited exceptions to the rights conferred by a trademark, such as fair use of descriptive terms, provided that such exceptions take account of the legitimate interest of the owner of the trademark and of third parties. (Article QQ.C.4, p. 17)
Only Vietnam has had the mettle to stand up to every other negotiating country and propose fair use as a positive right:
[VN propose; AU/US/NZ/SG/MY/CL/PE/CA/JP/BN oppose: The owner of a registered trademark shall not have the right to prevent third parties from using geographical indications or other signs descriptive of goods and services even though they are identical or similar to the trademark unless such use would result in confusion.]
Given this issue alone, EFA would challenge Prime Minister Tony Abbott to provide evidence for his claim about the TPP reported in The Age that "in the end ... everyone is better off." Of course this is not a Coalition-only issue. Most of the negotiations were conducted during the term of the previous Labour government.
What can you do?
- Read James Love's summary of the leaked TPP IP chapter at Knowledge Economy International.
- Read EFF's comprehensive back catalogue of articles on the TPP.
- Sign the Open Media International, Our Fair Deal, and Choice Australia petitions. Encourage others to sign them. Australians must make a noise before the next round of TPP negotiations in Salt Lake City at the end of November. DFAT must be in no doubt that Australians reject these proposals and will fight for freedom of expression, global equality of rights, freedom of choice, and equality of costs.
- Contact your Federal MP and Senator. EFA has a page of tips to help you get politicians' attention.