Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Copyright Fights Heat Up Again Around Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, May 15 2012

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) today re-released part of a previously leaked February 2011 draft of the U.S. proposal for the Trans Pacific Partnership pact on his KeepTheWebOPEN website, as he joined calls by advocacy groups to make the currently ongoing deliberations about the treaty more open.

The United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are all involved in negotiating the agreement, which include provisions about intellectual property and copyright that will play a role in the developing global online economy. A 12th round of negotiations on the deal is now under way in Dallas, Texas. Issa is encouraging users to use his MADISON platform to comment on the document, which the website Knowledge Economy International obtained and released in March 2011.

Advocacy groups like Public Knowledge are concerned about the provisions of the treaty that pertain to copyright. In a recent blog post, Public Knowledge staff attorney Rashmi Rangnath wrote that the February 2011 draft contains provisions that "could easily send an individual who downloaded a few songs to jail."

But that's based on the newly rereleased draft, over a year old. Because negotiations continue in secret, it's unclear what the text currently proposes.

Reuters reported earlier this this week that advocacy groups met with the chief U.S. negotiator for the TPP talks and asked for a release of the drafts. Weisel explained it was the U.S. position that the "constantly evolving TPP chapter texts cannot be released to the public," Reuters reported. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk also told Reuters that some secrecy in the talks is necessary. He said it was too early in the negotiations to release the text. The U.S. Trade Representative's Office also stated it is committed to discussing "the formation of U.S. positions, the substance of negotiations as they take place and how issues should be handled by negotiators as talks continue."

In a recent letter to President Obama, several industry groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), called for the Administration to advocate for tough intellectual property protections. "The strong IP protections proposed by the U.S. government in the TPP negotiations do not represent, as some suggest, a threat to public health, the development and expansion of the Internet or rights of freedom of speech, but rather a much-needed response to increasingly sophisticated threats to IP protection throughout the world," the groups write. "More, not less, rigorous IP rules are needed to thwart the explosion in IP infringement, including of pirated, counterfeit and unlawful copycat products throughout all sectors of the economy, and trade-secret theft."

This is part of a far broader debate — raging in earnest in other corners of the Internet — about whether online piracy is the symptom of an industry with a business model unsuited to the 21st century, if piracy itself is the core problem, and what role that government should or shouldn't play in where that industry goes from here.

What isn't at issue is whether online piracy happens — just how much harm it's doing to copyright holders and who should be doing something about it. In an online poll by Der Spiegel about the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, just over 50 percent of nearly 16,400 respondents said they watched the series online or as a download — months before the series was airing legally in Germany. According to reports, it's the most pirated TV show of the year.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

More