Saturday, March 12, 2011

Son of ACTA is a complete bastard

The copyright provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement are becoming clearer, and it's no thanks to Trade Minister Tim Groser nor Prime Minister John Key. Slashdot points to Techdirt with the nitty gritty:
Some key points:
  • It would require that countries participating ban parallel import for any copyright holder who wants it. That is, if a copyright holder says no, countries would have to block your ability to purchase legal and authorized products in one country and import them into another. This is the so-called "grey market" which should be perfectly legal, but which many companies would like to block so they can price things much higher in some countries.
  • It would require criminal enforcement for certain cases of circumventing DRM even when there's no copyright infringement, going beyond existing treaties even when there's no copyright infringement. There are some exceptions, but rather than allow countries to determine their own exceptions, it defines the exceptions and actually says countries cannot go beyond those.
  • It would impose liability on ISPs for dealing with infringing works that goes well beyond the DMCA. Yes, Hollywood may finally be able to force ISPs to act as their personal business model cops -- something they've been unable to do in the US.
  • Along those lines, there would be "legal incentives" for ISPs to go above and beyond that in helping copyright holders.
  • Forget privacy. ISPs would be required to identify users on request, going well beyond existing law.
  • Expand what is considered patentable, going in the opposite direction of what's needed. Most troubling, it would allow patents on inventions even if the inventions do "not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that product." This seems to go against the very purpose of patent law, but the USTR has already shown it couldn't care much less than actually obeying the Constitutional underpinnings of patents or copyright law.
  • Continues the troubling and problematic idea that patents must be assumed valid, even if they were only briefly reviewed.
  • A requirement to forbid third party opposition of patent applications. This is particularly ridiculous. Allowing third parties to oppose patent applications (as is allowed with trademarks) would certainly help prevent some really bad patent applications from getting through. How can the USTR justify not allowing such a basic concept of letting third parties point out bad patents before they're approved. Especially when you combine this with the "presumption of validity" in patents once granted, it looks like the USTR is trying to increase the rubber stamping of patent approvals.

Can a government be accused of treason, I wonder? I mean, it is increasingly clear that the Nats are making it all up as they go along. John Key is still a long way from understanding what he can and can't blurt to the nation, as well as what he can and can't promise on our behalf to the US corporate raiders.

You've got to have serious doubts on the TPP when Gordon Campbell and Eric Crampton are in agreement. So sez Bernard Hickey, Jane Kelsey and me too. If the Nats sign on to this, they'll have a bigger Blackout protest on his hands than last time.

UPDATE: Here is the link I was thinking of during this post. Technically Alex Tarrant, but Bernard Hickey is complicit.