Sunday, February 12, 2012

Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP") Agreement - Consultation Deadline of Valentine's Day February 14, 2011 - Towards "Copyright Forever" and Higher Prices Now

World Copyright Terms (created by Balfour Smith of Duke University)

The Canadian government is asking for submissions on the proposed TPP agreement by February 14, 2012.

One of the identified items for consultation is:
  • Views and experiences with the protection of intellectual property rights. 
According to Sean Flynn of American University's Washington College of law, preliminary analysis of "leaked" documents indicate that the USA will be seeking:
  • a life + 70 year copyright term, 
  • to abandon the access to medicines flexibilities of the 2007 New Trade Deal and the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement
  • to create a new international legal requirement to provide copyright owners an exclusive right to block parallel trade of  copyrighted works.
See Sean Flynn's analysis here and here. If Sean is right, the USA will be seeking to impose a regime that goes far beyond  Canada's NAFTA and WTO obligations and even way beyond still controversial IP and trade agreements not yet ratified, such as the 1996 WIPO treaties and ACTA.

This sounds like policy shopping on a grand scale.

The DFAIT document is available

Remember - the deadline for comments if February 14, 2012. You may also wish to to include with your submission a  lovely Valentine, such as the one below.

Valentine's Day
Don't forget to send in your view by Valentine's Day February 14, 2011.

Tell the Government of Canada what you think about extending the copyright term for another 20 years to life + 70. That's a very long time. For example, the iconic Canadian writer, scholar, academic, economist, comedian and genius-about -town (small and large) Stephen Leacock died in 1944. If this regime applied to him, his works would be locked up by a publisher - likely a multinational - or an estate of remote descendants who did nothing to create these works - until 2014. Would such a term extension benefit anyone, except some foreign corporation, some clever copyright lawyers, some distant descendants, or others who have no obvious claim to monopoly entitlement?

Ask whether this would provide any incentive for the next Glenn Gould, Leonard Cohen, Robert LePage - or, indeed, Stephen Leacock. Would such a regime have made Leacock any more clever or productive when he was alive? On the other hand, what are the costs to scholarship, culture, and nourishment for new creators by locking away the rights to Leacock from the public domain for another 20 years?

Or whether it's just a question of sending even more money to Disney and other mostly American and European copyright owners and exploiters of the rights of long dead creators.

Does Canada want to join the American campaign towards "copyright forever", which would result in the stagnation of creativity?

Do you want to see Canada being told by other countries (that really means, effectively, the USA) how to deal with TPMs' and what type of SOPA-like provisions we would be expected - make that "required" - to enact?

By the way, if Sony Bono's zealous widow, Congresswoman Mary Bono, had gotten her way, we would indeed have seen "copyright forever" in the USA:
Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. ... As you know, there is also [Motion Picture Association of America president] Jack Valenti's proposal for the term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress.
The provision mentioned above that would enable copyright owners to prohibit parallel imports would also require a major change in Canadian law. Parallel imports are legitimate products, such as CDs or  DVDs, manufactured abroad with the consent of the rights owner in the country of manufacture. Blocking such imports into Canada would eliminate an important element of competition and result in immediate price discrimination and higher consumer prices. I fought this battle on behalf of the Retail Council in the Supreme Court of Canada in the Kraft case, where my client's submissions were the basis of the prevailing reasons for judgment.

Send your views here:


1 comment:

  1. DO NOT EXPAND COPYRIGHT. NO TO SOPA, TPP, ACTA or any of its unconstitutional cousins