Leak Reveals Proposed Intellectual Property Changes

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On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published a series of documents outlining proposals for the Trans-Pacific Partnership's chapter on intellectual property rights. The proposals for this section of the tentative trade agreement have many proponents if IP reform up in arms, since they seem to aim to make regulations more restrictive. The information comes as a surprise considering that most of the proposals for the work-in-progress agreement have remained private. The countries currently negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation was quick to come out against many of the proposals:

The leaked text, from August 2013, confirms long-standing suspicions about the harm the agreement could do to users’ rights and a free and open Internet. From locking in excessive copyright term limits to further entrenching failed policies that give legal teeth to Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools, the TPP text we’ve seen today reflects a terrible but unsurprising truth: an agreement negotiated in near-total secrecy, including corporations but excluding the public, comes out as an anti-user wish list of industry-friendly policies.

The suggestions including extending the length of copyrights (the U.S. suggest its already-instituted "life of the author plus 70 years," while Mexico proposed "plus 100 years" instead) and altering interpretation of fair use. Chile, New Zealand, and Malaysia all proposed policy that grants copyright exemptions to temporary copies of content.

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In other sections of the document, reforms for drug patents were also suggested. From Knowledge Ecology International's breakdown of the document:

The trade agreement includes proposals for more than a dozen measures that would limit competition and raise prices in markets for drugs. These include (but are not limited to) provisions that would lower global standards for obtaining patents, make it easier to file patents in developing countries, extend the term of patents beyond 20 years, and create exclusive rights to rely upon test data as evidence that drugs are safe and effective.

It should be emphasized that all of these policy proposals are just that—proposals—but with leaders trying to finish the trade agreement by the end of this year, the most recent proposals might be seen as an indication of what the finished product might look like.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.