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ACTA 2.0

ACTA 2.0

by Stephen Lendman

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "a secretive, multi-nation agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws across the globe."

It replicates its worst features. Nine nations are negotiating it secretly plus Japan without formal status. They include America, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, and Brunei.

Though provisions aren't known, Article 1.1.3 states:

"The Parties seek to support the wider liberalisation process (read corporate control) in APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) consistent with its goals of free and open (not fair) investment."

APEC includes 21 members. Major Asian ones include China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea among others. Non-Asian ones include America, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile.

Four countries (Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei and Chile) negotiated an initial agreement. On June 3, 2005, it was signed and took effect on May 28, 2006. Six other countries joined negotiations.

Ten previous negotiating rounds occurred beginning from March 15 - 19, 2010. An 11th is scheduled for March 1 - 9, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.

At issue is agreeing on unrestricted trade in goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers, government procurement and competition policies, and intellectual property (IP).

EFF urges:

"Don't Let TPP Become the New ACTA: Contact Your Lawmakers and Demand Transparency," saying:

Like ACTA, TPP negotiations are secret "and on a fast timetable. We don't know what's in the TPP IP chapter, and that's what worries us." Entertainment industry executives are involved. It's one of corporate America's most corrupt.

Intellectual property (IP) includes copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related considerations. One-sided structuring for business harms ordinary citizens' rights. In addition, at stake is "the future of the Internet's global infrastructure and innovation across the world."

A leaked February TPP version showed US negotiators pressuring for far more restrictive IP provisions than ACTA and other international treaties. It stated:

"This document must be protected from unauthorized disclosure....It must be stored in a locked or secured building, room, or container."

Declassification would be authorized "four years from entry into force....or, if no agreement enters into force, four years from the close of the negotiations."

In other words, power brokers want secretive provisions established with no public knowledge of their destructive harm.

TPP aims to rewrite global IP enforcement rules. All signatory countries will have to change domestic laws, regulations, and other policies to comply.

In America, controversial copyright laws will be further hardened. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "broad ban on circumventing digital locks and frequently disproportionate statutory damages for copyright infringement."

Moreover, Congress will be prevented from reforming domestic law to assure Internet freedom and innovative technology protections.

Leaked TPP provisions subvert US laws. As a result, significant issues are raised, including free expression, privacy, and due process. From what's known, TPP will require signatories to:

(1) "Treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders' authorization as copyright infringement." Earlier this was discussed and rejected.

(2) "Ban parallel importation of genuine goods acquired from other countries without the authorization of copyright owners."

(3) Establish copyright provisions well beyond current norms. For example, the US - Oman Free Trade Agreement enforces rights 95 years after publication or 120 years after creating corporate owned works.

(4) "Adopt laws banning circumvention of digital locks (technological protection measures - TMPs) that mirror the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and treat violation of the TMP provisions as a separate offense, even when no copyright infringement is involved."

As a result, signatories would have to rewrite or reverse existing laws to comply. Enormous public interest harm would result. Business would benefit at the expense of the greater good.

(5) Impose copyright infringement criminal sanctions.

(6) "Adopt the US DMCA Internet Intermediaries copyright safe harbor regime in its entirety." Again, fundamental protections would end.

Overall, signatories would be forced to adopt harmful provisions. Sovereignty issues and consumer protections are at stake, as well as the ability of governments to prioritize domestic needs.

Like ACTA, negotiations are secret behind closed doors. Transparency demands by prominent civil society organizations were ignored. They include Public Citizen, Global Exchange, Friends of the Earth, Earthjustice and others.

If adopted, non-signatory countries will be affected, including all 21 APEC members. Pressure will be applied globally to comply with anti-populist provisions.

TPP Watch

It's "a network of concerned unions, groups and individuals formed to organize and support initiatives to oppose" TPP. "Beware the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement," it highlights.

At issue is "almost every area of policy you can think of," including labor laws, subsidy protections, and regulations covering GMO and other foods, drugs, tobacco, mining, the ability to reverse privatizations, foreign investments, hot money, and IP protection.

Investor rights are prioritized at the expense popular ones. For example, foreign investors would be able to sue governments for hundreds of millions of dollars for breaching their TPP rights.

Corporations now rule the world. Imagine doing it more than ever with an unchallengeable iron fist. Incrementally, free societies are at risk.

Unless ACTA, TPP and similar measures are stopped, they're heading for the dustbin of history practically everywhere. If that's not worth fighting to stop, what is?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.