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U.S. Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws Repealed by TPP - 11/14/12

Just as it is easier to break a broom by breaking one straw at a time than by trying to snap the whole head at once, the TPP would destroy American sovereignty by subordinating domestic laws one after another to obligations accepted as part of this international trade agreement.

Despite assurances that he would not diminish the right of fair use in American copyright law, USTR Kirk seems to have done just that during one of the latest rounds of TPP negotiations held in September in Leesburg, Virginia.

According to leaked draft versions of various provisions, the legal definition of "fair use" is now fair game for the international cabal of corporate shills serving as TPP negotiators.

Perhaps recognizing the growing opposition from civil libertarians to this otherwise secret pact, after the round of negotiations in July wrapped up, USTR Kirk e-mailed a statement to the media declaring that he would propose language on fair use and limitations to copyright for inclusion in the final version of the treaty that would be presented to Congress.

Such language was not found, however, in the text that was leaked and made public by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI). In the portion of the language posted by KEI, the exceptions to the laws protecting intellectual property seem to remain as stringent as ever, much to the chagrin of fair use advocates who had hoped for a reduction of the restrictions.

Before these revelations were made public by the KEI post, it was assumed that the USTR would stick to its commitment to work to include rules "that will obligate Parties to seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research."

While there is indeed text purporting to accomplish that end, a closer reading reveals that several loopholes remain through which significant restrictions (and punishments for violations of them) can pass into American law.

For example, negotiators representing the United States and Australia have proposed a test to determine whether an exception to copyright will be permitted under the terms of the TPP.

Specifically, the leaked text mandates that TPP member nations should confine these limitations "to certain special cases that do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work, performance, or phonogram, and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the right holder."

Such language is not final, however, as other participating nations — New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam — are pushing for less restrictive language that would permit "a party to carry forward and appropriately extend into the digital environment limitations and exceptions in its domestic laws."

As one would expect, negotiators for the United States and Australia prefer to reduce those fair use rights to the degree "that each party may, consistent with the foregoing, adopt or maintain ... exceptions and limitations for the digital environment."

As Megan Geuss of Ars Technica, an online site devoted mainly to technology, explained, "In other words, the US and Australia are saying a country can't just decide on 'limitations and fair use' based on existing domestic [intellectual property] laws, some of which may be quite broad. Instead, limitations must conform to international agreements, including the TPP, which can be more restrictive."

As with all such attempts to integrate the economies of the United States and other "partners," the right of settling disputes and defining the scope of intellectual property rights and restrictions would be granted to an extra-constitutional international tribunal with members being nominated by the United Nations secretary-general.

In fact, all "partners" to the pact, including foreign corporations, would be exempted from abiding by American copyright laws (those passed by Congress and designed to protect the public and the rights holder), and the sovereignty of the United States and the Constitution's enumeration of powers would once again be sacrificed on the altar of globalism.

The broom is close to breaking.:

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