InternetNZ presents TPP views to Select Committee

7 April 2016

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter and Issues Advisor James Ting-Edwards appeared today before Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee as it conducts its examination of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

“We made four key points to the Select Committee,” says Chief Executive Jordan Carter.

“First, the longer copyright term required by the Agreement is not in New Zealand’s interests. The twenty-year extension to the duration of copyright will cost the country more than the gains it might offer to a few New Zealand creators.

“Second, the criminalisation of breaches of digital locks (so-called “Technological Protection Measures” or TPMs) by ordinary users of technology marks a far-reaching change. For the first time, people who open these locks just to access a movie, song, or book will risk legal liability - even if they have the right to view the underlying content. These legal risks threaten innovation and inhibit competition. To make this system work, New Zealand will have to make extensive and clever use of the allowed exceptions - and will have to update those exceptions regularly.

“Third, the negatives in the Agreement mentioned above can be balanced by the Agreement’s openness to a more expansive fair-use exemption, something New Zealand should seriously contemplate. Such an exemption should be built into our copyright law at the same time as the other changes required by the TPP - or if not, very soon afterwards.

“Fourth, we explained that trade agreements negotiated in secret are not the right place to determine Internet policy. Internet policy is best made in an open, transparent environment where all the relevant expertise, interests and views are in the room together, hashing out durable and workable solutions. Future trade negotiations should not deal with Internet policy issues.

Carter also complemented the New Zealand negotiators for ensuring the final Agreement did far less harm to the Internet than earlier drafts threatened.

“New Zealand had a progressive and sensible stance in the negotiations, and stuck to its position with tenacity. Negotiators worked with colleagues from other TPP countries to make sure that the more outrageous demands made by the United States were not accepted.

“The negotiators deserve great credit for their work, and the Cabinet and the Ministers involved deserve thanks for a sensible negotiating mandate and for standing up to what must have been considerable pressure.

InternetNZ members have a wide range of views about the TPPA. The organisation’s submission is consistent with its long-established policy principles, and was lodged to help inform the Committee’s work and to assist in bringing about our vision of a better world through a better Internet.