Open letter from the Fair Deal coalition to government representatives behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

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By Fair Deal coalition ()
, November 2013

APC, as a member of the Fair Deal coalition, joins other civil society organisations in their demand for a development-oriented approach to the copyright provisions in the TTP, an agreement that is being secretly negotiated by countries representing more than 40% of the world’s GDP.

We, the undersigned organizations, ask for A Fair Deal on copyright in the TPP. As a coalition representing a diversity of interests, we call on governments to reject copyright proposals in the TPP that would limit the open internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.

Text from the TPP Intellectual Property Chapter recently released by Wikileaks confirms the Fair Deal Coalition’s fears that the TPP would reduce our access to information and restrict our ability to innovate, both on and offline, if a number of the proposed copyright provisions were agreed to.

If you accept these provisions then you would be severely limiting future opportunities for your countries to innovate, remix, create, and distribute content. internet users and businesses will face higher copyright costs and reduced access to content, both online and off. In short, you could be trading away your country’s digital future.

Any copyright standards ultimately agreed to in the TPP must safeguard countries’ ability to develop flexible digital policy in their national interests, including the interests of the least fortunate.

We therefore call for a change in approach to copyright that ensures A Fair Deal for all countries and stakeholders:

  • Countries should be encouraged to promote a rich public domain, not required to shrink it. The TPP should not require longer copyright terms. There are hundreds of millions of works, of many kinds, protected under copyright, of which only a small percentage have long term commercial value. Copyright terms that are too long can discourage access to information and innovation, and inadvertently prevent the re-discovery of out-of-print or unused works.
  • Copyright works should be part of an open market. Trade in copyright works across borders can be impeded by parallel importation restrictions. These enable rightsholders to charge different prices in different markets for the same item, increasing the price and decreasing the availability of content for consumers. The TPP should lower trade barriers, not raise them.
  • Fair and genuine uses of copyright works should not be blocked by digital locks. Increasingly, laws relating to digital locks (also known as technological protection measures or TPMs) are conflicting with uses of copyright works otherwise permitted by law. For instance, digital locks should not be used to prevent the blind from accessing copyright works, nor should they block reasonable access to educational materials or reduce consumer choice. TPM laws for the 21st century should be adaptable to a rapidly evolving digital environment and allow fair uses of works.
  • Access to the internet should be promoted as fundamental to participating in 21st century society. Trade agreements must not require termination of internet access for infringement of copyright. The United Nations has recognised the importance of the internet to human rights. Termination of internet access to a household or business would cut off occupants from education, employment, health services, government information, and social engagement.

In summary, we encourage:

  • The promotion of access to knowledge, innovation, and economic opportunity.
  • Respect for fundamental rights like due process, privacy, and free speech.
  • Recognition of the realities and opportunities of the internet.

Who we are
Between us we represent the interests of internet users, schools, universities, artists, libraries and archives, the visually-impaired, consumers, information technology firms, internet businesses, and those who believe in the power of open source software and the open internet as a driving force for innovation, development and socially responsible economic growth. We include industry groups, digital rights advocates, academics and human rights organisations.

As a group we are diverse, but we share one thing in common: We seek appropriately-balanced intellectual property laws that enable many sectors of society to conduct business, access information, educate, and innovate. You can learn more about the International Fair Deal coalition and it’s members at: http://ourfairdeal.org/#/About_Us

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