First official TPP text confirms IP concerns

6 November 2015

InternetNZ is pleased that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is finally out in the open.

InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter said our concerns about the IP Chapter are confirmed by the final text.

“Based on our first read, the IP Chapter is the same as the version leaked last month. For New Zealand, this means longer copyright terms and a new offence for removing digital locks on content, even where there is no copyright infringement.

“Until now, New Zealand has not criminalised people just for bypassing a TPM ‘digital lock.’ Article 18.68 of the IP Chapter could change that, meaning people who tinker with technology could be made into criminals.

“New Zealand depends on innovation to overcome our small size and distance from the rest of the world. We must ensure that legitimate tinkering, which does not infringe copyright, is still allowed.”

The TPP also requires longer copyright terms, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has said will cost consumers $55 million a year.

With the TPP we are getting US-style copyright terms, says Carter.  

“New Zealanders may have to ask whether we can adopt other parts of the US law, like fair use, to balance the rights of users with those of copyright owners.

"The TPP acknowledges the importance of flexible and fair copyright law. We must implement that part of the agreement to balance new restrictions."

Provisions in the investment and e-commerce chapters may be even more concerning.

“The investment chapter defines ‘intellectual property’ as an asset which could be subject to investor-state disputes. This means overseas IP owners could dictate New Zealand policy under threat of expensive lawsuits, as with the tobacco plain-packaging dispute in Australia.

“The e-commerce chapter puts limits on local data-storage laws. In other words, New Zealand might want tech companies to store sensitive customer data here, where our legal system can ensure privacy is respected. That might not be allowed under e-commerce rules.”

The full text amounts to over 6000 pages so there is a lot of work to be done in order to fully understand each section of the TPPA before the agreement is signed and finalised by the Government.  

InternetNZ will be participating in the legislative process that seeks to implement the TPPA to ensure that the open Internet is both protected and enhanced.