12 December 2013 — Voice of Russia
After four days of talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which took place in Singapore, the participants failed to sign a resolution that would have suited all of them. The only agreement reached at the talks was to resume them later. However, some materials released by Wikileaks show that the reason for this lack of agreement is that the US is putting heavy pressure on the other participants of the talks.
A statement released by the heads of several delegations says that it was decided to resume the talks in several weeks from now. Meanwhile, the statement says, “we will further our consultations with stakeholders and engage in our respective political processes.”
The documents revealed by Wikilleaks show that the misunderstandings between the US, on the one hand, and the other participants of the talks, on the other, include as much as 19 points of disagreement in the sphere of intellectual property alone.
For example, Australia is firmly objecting to the US’s proposals for copyright protection, as well as to the demand to limit the liability of ISPs for copyright infringement by their users, although all the other participants are supporting the latter measure. Japan, on its side, is opposed to the US’s wish to see the Japanese agricultural markets opened up.
Last weekend, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz sent a letter to negotiators, calling on them to resist a tranche of measures that, as he believes, may weaken the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
These measures include extending patent terms and lowering the threshold for patentability of medicines, making surgical procedures patentable and mandating monopolies of 12 years on test data for biologic drugs.
Mr. Stiglitz also objects to the granting of compulsory licenses on patents, increasing damages for patent and copyright infringement, placing lower limits on injunctions, narrowing copyright exceptions and extending copyright protection to life plus 70 years.
Joseph Stiglitz’s concerns are shared by the authors of another letter that has been sent to the negotiators by 29 organizations and more than 70 individuals,
“The primary harm from the life + 70 copyright term is the loss of access to countless books, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, films, sound recordings and other works that are ‘owned’ but largely not commercialized, forgotten, and lost,” the letter says. “The extended terms are also costly to consumers and performers, while benefiting persons and corporate owners that had nothing to do with the creation of the work.”
As it was said, the participants of the talks agreed to gather for another round next month. However, analysts are predicting that this next round is unlikely to result into any serious breakthrough as well.
Highly secretive trade agreements have been published on the WikiLeaks website with 95 pages that were taken from the recent TPP or better known as Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The main aim of the TPP is to unite nations such as the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei, which when all combined, make up about 40% of the world’s gross domestic product.
Barack Obama and other leaders of the outstanding 11 states were keeping the TPP in secrecy for a lot of years. According to the officials, the agreement would stir up the economies of those countries listed in it. During the Barack Obama’s speech back in 2011 he mentioned “The TPP will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports and creating more jobs for our people, which is my number-one priority. It has the potential to be a model not only for the Asia Pacific but for future trade agreements”.
The opponents of the agreement claim that among economic changes document contains many other hidden motives that will not help other countries. For instance, WikiLeaks has published a chapter from an August draft that talks about Intellectual Property, or IP. California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that the earlier leaked text shows evidently that the agreement “would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.” The text published by WikiLeaks proves the point.
Julian Assange, the Australian founder of the whistleblower site was extremely hard and critical of the TPP.
“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs,” Assange stated.
James Love from Knowledge Ecology International shared his opinion on that as well, “The TPP text shrinks the space for exceptions in all types of intellectual property rights. Negotiated in secret, the proposed text is bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine and profoundly bad for innovation.”
Critics of the agreement already stated that the new material could result in medical services going up. The chapter published on the whistleblowers web site confirms that fears stating that drug companies could easily extend their patents under the TPP, thus prohibiting other countries from producing certain pills or selling them to others.
However, the current innovations will not affect only medicine but other sides of everyday lives as well. Dr. Matthew Rimmer, an expert in intellectual property law, told in his interview to the Sydney Morning Herald. “One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view. Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft and the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this.”
WikiLeaks states that the Obama administration and other leaders of states who are part of the TPP agreement are eager to ratify the agreement before the next year. With the draft document already published it could all be put at stake now.
Voice of Russia, Forbes, RT