Wikileaks Releases IP Chapter of the Final Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

Published: October 9, 2015 10:50 PM /


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Wikileaks has released the IP Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Document is dated October 5, the same date that it was announced that a final agreement had been reached by the members of the TPP. The EFF has already done an extensive analysis of the document, and is not too pleased with the final deal.

As expected, the deal forces America's copyright term, which is lifetime of the author plus 70 years, on the other TPP countries, most of whom currently have a shorter copyright term. However, for corporate works the lifetime plus 70 rule doesn't apply. It was believed that the term would be 120 years, which is the copyright term for corporate works in the United States, because 120 years was the length set in earlier leaked drafts. Some sort of compromise must have been reached, because the final deal sets the term for corporate works at 70 years. The EFF points out that some works like the film Casablanca, which is expected to be protected by copyright in the United States until 2038, would already be in the public domain under a 70 year copyright term.

The deal allows a time period for some countries to gradually phase in the new copyright regime, which varies from country to country, but none longer than 8 years. While some countries were given a generous amount of time to get in line with the new copyright terms, Canada must implement the new copyright rules immediately. The Canadian activist group Open Media criticized the deal in general, but particularly criticized this section, where Canada seemed to get a worse deal than the other countries.

Also included in the deal is a ban on DRM circumvention. The exact language of the deal states that the offense of DRM circumvention is independent of any copyright infringement that may have occurred. Chile originally opposed this language, but must have caved because the language still remains in the final deal. The deal does allow for TPP countries to legalize DRM circumvention for non-infringing purposes, but it is not mandatory to do so.

The deal also forces America's DMCA takedown system onto the signatory countries. This system has drawn great criticism, as sites like YouTube have taken down videos over bogus DMCA claims. However, the problem is with the DMCA, not YouTube. Under the existing law, YouTube must respond to DMCA takedown claims, or else be held liable for all infringing content on the site. YouTube could not continue to exist if it was sued into oblivion by rights holders. Now this horrible system is being set as a global standard in the TPP deal. A few countries in the deal will be allowed to keep alternative systems to the DMCA system, but any countries who join the TPP in the future will not be allowed to do so.

The EFF did point out some positive aspects of the deal. It does uphold first sale doctrine of American law. This means copyright holders cannot prevent the resale of copyrighted works once they are on the market. Along with a provision that legalizes devices to circumvent region-coding, this would allow individuals to import and resell cheap copies of works they have bought in other countries. The EFF also found another positive point in the deal, which is only positive in the sense that things didn't end up quite as bad as it could have. Earlier leaked drafts would have applied copyright protection to temporary copies of works stored in computer memory. This was not included in the final deal.

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.