The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is being negotiated in secret between more than 12 countries around the Pacific region. Find out why it poses a huge threat to your digital freedoms.
“The first concern about the TPP is its Article 4, on “Copyright and Related Rights”.
It extends the terms of protection of these rights to the life of the author, plus 70 years. Although this is already part of Australia’s law since 2006, it goes beyond the life plus 50 years from the Berne Convention and will bring all the signatory countries in line with US law.
Copyright extensions have been criticised as being “bad for innovation, bad for the economy and bad for our culture”. This is because extending copyright protection delays creative material going into the public domain and restricts the re-use and remix of older material into something new and innovative.
It also benefits established artists and corporate rightsholders who have bought the rights from the original innovators, at the expense of emerging creators.
Article 4 also prohibits the circumvention of technical measures which are used to protect copyrights. These measures include the restrictions on music files which prohibit the user making copies, on DVDs which prevent the DVD being played in a different region, and on e-books which stop them being read aloud by the computer.
There are some very limited exceptions to this rule, such as for researchers who are trying to ensure the interoperability of computer programs and to investigate security flaws.
Although technical protection measures can protect against copyright infringements, they can also stop plenty of perfectly legal uses of protected material. The circumvention of technical protection measures can be done for legitimate reasons, such as for promoting competition and facilitating innovation.
Yet this is not included in the TPP’s text, and currently the breaking of a technical protection measure will be prohibited, even if it does not constitute a copyright infringement.