back to article Secret US-Pacific trade pact leak exposes power of the copyright lobby

A leak of the intellectual property section of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has confirmed earlier reports of American lawyers pushing for expanded intellectual-property rights across the 12 countries negotiating. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) has posted the May 11 version of the chapter, which is …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    This whole scenario makes me really angry.

    And I was just getting ready to wind down for bedtime

  2. Mark 85

    Have a libation before lying down. You realize of course that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, right? Only the negotiators and their handlers know what else is in there. Good grief, I'm American and this is pissing me off royally.

    All the warm, fuzzies by politicians and corporate types is actually (and always has been) just so much bovine excrement behind the barn. We've come of the age, finally, of "trust no one".

    1. CanadianMacFan

      There's lots of stuff in there to hate. One of the nasty ones that will get more power is where corporations get to sue the government for any policies that cause it financial difficulty. It's called ISDS and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio show Background Briefing had a good show about it recently.

      The big one for Canada is opening up our dairy market. I know we're paying more than a lot of people for our milk but at least our farmers are surviving. I hear what's going on in Europe and New Zealand with their dairy farmers and if we open up our market then our farmers are going to be joining them quite quickly.

      1. Dagg Silver badge

        > CanadianMacFan

        The farmers in NZ are doing quite well, especially the dairy farmers.

        1. GrumpyOldBloke

          The farmers in NZ were doing quite well, especially the dairy farmers. Now up to their eyeballs in debt and facing a commodity crash.

          1. perlcat

            I do not envy dairy farmers of any sort, they lead a difficult life.

  3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'm not subject to secret laws

    Why should anybody be? Seriously, if someone came by and claimed "You're violating this secret agreement or law", I'd tell them to take a hike and come back when they have valid charges.

    I think this is high time, these countries where "whoever" signed onto a secret agreement that nobody else can look at.. when it comes time where "whoever" expects their parliaments to "implement" the agreement... it's time for their parliaments to just say "the public can't even see this agreement? So, why should I even pay attention to it?" I mean, nobody can even point to this country and say "Hey, you violated clause 12 of the agreement", since the agreement is secret anyway. Just flat-out ignore it.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      @ Henry Wertz 1Re: I'm not subject to secret laws

      Man, you are not from around here ("here" being the West side of the pond), are you? 'Cuz if you were, you'd inherently know that, just because it's going to make the fat-asses (fat-arses, for you Continentals) fatter, they absolutely need to make it secret; if it were to be exposed to the harsh white light of day, it'd shrivel up under the withering criticism of the real people faster than your favorite vampire.

    2. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: I'm not subject to secret laws

      It's not secret, USA law will apply everywhere.

      1. perlcat

        Re: I'm not subject to secret laws

        I don't think so. It certainly doesn't apply to the politicians that vote for it.

  4. Tubz Silver badge

    What do you expect from the money grabbing IP scumbags, their political poodles and poor Joe Public suffers !

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    They seem to have a lot to hide... they must have a lot fear...from their own citizens"

    1. perlcat

      Re: They seem to have a lot to hide...

      Why, yes, yes, they do.

  6. CanadianMacFan

    Changing the law

    Don't worry if Harper gets in again (shudder) he won't have to change the laws with the trade agreement. His favourite method is to shove everything in one big budget bill full of surprises for us peasants. That's how he changed the number of years for copyright up to 70 recently.

    1. asdf

      Re: Changing the law

      >That's how he changed the number of years for copyright up to 70 recently.

      Thank good ole Disney for that. They love stealing others public domain stories (see Frozen) but don't you dare touch their shitty little mouse.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Changing the law

        What really irritates me is when I hear a question on a quiz show relating to (say) Sleeping Beauty, and they call it "Disney's Sleeping Beauty" - if the question relates specifically to their version, fair enough, but it's usually a generic question about the story. Bah!

        1. Vincent Ballard

          Re: Changing the law

          Speaking as someone who regularly has to ask for clarification from the people who set the questions at my pub quiz, I think that it's very sensible to specify that the answer which is considered correct is the one which fits a specific, easily identified, version. Otherwise you'll get people claiming that their (officially wrong) answer is the correct one in the Penguin version, or in the original Danish version, or somesuch.

          1. asdf

            Re: Changing the law

            Forgot the pedantic icon Vin.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The only good thing about Obama on this topic was his inability to get it done. He'll leave it for the next asshole we elect.

  8. P. Lee

    >In order to introduce stronger piracy laws without trying to force Canada to change its laws (something that is never going to happen through a trade deal),

    Is that because Canada's largest export to the US is ... oil? Changing other countries laws is exactly what the TPP is about.

    Sing it Whitney:

    Cos your laws are my laws, and you're sub-ject to my laws

    It would take an eternity to break us,

    Cos we're funded by monop-olies.

    Your laws are my laws, and you're sub-ject to my laws

    It would take an eternity to break us,

    Cos we got police protection.

    Whitney's grieving spouse would have enjoyed not just the benefit of the wealth Whitney left behind, but *new* income from Whitney's work until he's 113. If Bobbi had lived, there would be new income from her mum's work until 2082 when she would have been 87. Can you see how that might improve productivity and creativity? Since both of these ages are beyond the average lifespan, we have State-sponsored monopoly protection for the industry providing *new* income from old work for the grandchild of the artist, possibly the great-grandchild too. And they want to export this abroad.

    IP lobbies are strong because there is no "loser" except the consumer. In other negotiations, an orange grower might be pitted against a dairy farmer or corn grower all of whom have their own lobbyists. In IP, there's little focussed and funded opposition, so they run wild.

    Sometimes there are grounds for protectionism. Its simple democracy. People should be free to elect a government and say, "we don't want GMO food." Whether you think this is sensible or not is beside the point. There are plenty of places where cheap stuff drives out better quality stuff. It isn't always that people don't want the good stuff, its just that it may be hard for individuals to detect the difference. An example via the Gruen Transfer: take "Sunny D" - the marketing department enforces the rules that it must be sold from a fridge. The idea is to deceive consumers into thinking that its some sort of fresh juice. It isn't and it doesn't need refrigeration. However, pretending coloured sugar-water is juice, results in high profit margins which means real juice is less attractive to vendors and is pushed out.

    Take GMO crops resistant to pesticides. You kill all the pests, and you get bumper crops. After a while, the insect ecology collapses and all the plants no longer reproduce. You may go out of business, but the people buying the crops don't care. Your bumper harvest depressed prices and next year they'll buy from elsewhere. Or maybe you'll stay in business, but you'll have to buy new seed from the GMO company every year, where once the crop was self-replicating. I would suggest that the short-term benefit of cheap food is outweighed by the long term damage that capitalism doesn't account for. That's why we have government, to do the things the market would not.

  9. OffBeatMammal

    I assume the document was covered by some sort of IP deal so someone is probably in trouble for sharing it...!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The little people are screwed.

    Rinse and repeat.

  11. tom dial Silver badge

    Powers of Congress (Article I, Section VIII)

    "8. To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    "securing for limited Times" certainly was not meant as 70 to perhaps as much as 150 or 160 years. Moreover, securing the rights for such a period is a disincentive to further creative work by authors except insofar as they sell the copyright too cheaply. It is a fairly effective preventive measure widely used against others who might build on prior works.

    " to Authors and Inventors" does not mean their descendants who did not write or invent.

    There are few better examples of the legislature coddling special interests, and the best that can be said about efforts to push others into it is that it hasn't been done by force and violence (yet, I think).

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Powers of Congress (Article I, Section VIII)

      It's worth remembering that Jefferson accepted these provisons quite begrudgingly:

      "The saying there shall be no monopolies lessens the incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of 14 years; but the benefit even of limited monopolies is too doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppression."

      Madison's response:

      "With regard to monopolies they are justly classed among the greatest nuisances in government. But is it clear that as encouragements to literary works and ingenious discoveries, they are not too valuable to be wholly renounced?"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not likely this treaty will be passed in this form

    The U.S. judicial system does compensate those who are falsely accused of a civil crime, for legal costs, if it's clear that the suit was disingenuous/frivolous and not dismissed. A defendant can also sue for damages in this type of case but you need to be able to prove losses.

    Canada's IP laws make no sense and they should change them.

    Nothing stated in the story in regards to the U.S. position is really unreasonable IMO.

  13. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Reality Check

    Here it's worth studying the evidence of the leaks, and comparing them against the claims, to get a sense of the influence of the competing lobbies.

    Copyright section:

    "But if you had any doubt about the power of the IP lobby in the US..."

    In the late 1990s the copyright lobby was indeed more powerful than the internet lobby. But it isn't 1998 any more. The power of the IP lobby is far outweighed by the power of Google, Facebook and the rest of Silicon Valley, which is now indistinguishable from the Obama Administration. The results of TPP demonstrate this.

    Google backs TPP because it leaves the balance of power over liabilities for infringement unchanged (the individual continues to be powerless), while it can use the process to try and undermine regional data protection, claiming it is a trade restraint. TPP works out nicely for Google, but not necessarily for you. The long term plan to replace property-based markets (in which the law takes your side) with a kind of plantation is going quite nicely.

    Silicon Valley's greatest trick has been to convince people to act against their own economic interests. And even better, to campaign against laws which protect their rights as individuals, which allow you to own and control your own property. I'm all for "rebalancing" IP in favour of the individual, amateur or professional. Ideas such as non-assignment (the German model) for example should be more widely discussed. But sometimes changing things to benefit the individual means stronger IP, not weaker IP. Why do you think Google and Facebook fight this so hard?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like