Leaked Treaty Puts US Hard Line on Patents and Copyrights on Public Display

| Fri Nov. 15, 2013 12:00 PM EST

A couple of days ago, WikiLeaks leaked a copy of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. This is interesting in its own right, of course, but it's especially interesting because the draft copy specifies exactly which provisions the United States is fighting for and what positions other countries are taking. This means that if the US wins agreement for its demands, it will be a very public cave-in by most of the other negotiators. Needless to say, that makes caving in harder.

That said, what's actually in the draft? Today, Henry Farrell talks to George Washington University professor Susan Sell about the chapter dealing with intellectual property (trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc.). Here's an excerpt:

After Thursday’s leak of the intellectual property chapter it is obvious why the USTR and the Obama administration have insisted on secrecy. From this text it appears that the U.S. administration is negotiating for intellectual property provisions that it knows it could not achieve through an open democratic process. For example, it includes provisions similar to those of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that the European Parliament ultimately rejected....

People call it a Hollywood wish list — why?

Some provisions of the text resurrect pieces of SOPA and PIPA and ACTA that many found to be objectionable. The entertainment industries (movies and music) championed these agreements and sought stronger protections in the digital realm. These industries were stunned when SOPA and PIPA got killed. Only the United States and New Zealand oppose a provision that would require compensation for parties wrongfully accused of infringement (QQ.H.4). The United States is alone in proposing criminal procedures and penalties “even absent willful trademark, counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy”.

Only the United States and Australia oppose a provision limiting Internet Service Provider liability (QQ.I.1); U.S. copyright holders would like ISPs to be held liable for hosting infringing content. The United States also proposes extending copyright to life plus 95 years for corporate-owned copyrights. Hollywood consistently presses for longer copyright terms and it is doing so here.

Read the whole thing for more. It's no surprise that the United States is pushing the hardest line on IP protections, but it is a little surprising that its line is so hard and that it's apparently getting strong pushback from virtually every negotiating partner.