TPP laws risk creative handbrakes and unwarranted criminal charges

InternetNZ has released its submission to Parliament on the TPP Amendment Bill. The submission sets out ways to update the draft legislation to deliver the most fair possible copyright laws for all New Zealanders.

"This legislation makes some use of the exceptions allowed in the TPP, but it can and should go much further. The TPP will make New Zealand's copyright laws less fair - but Parliament can amend this draft legislation to minimise the damage," says Jordan Carter, Chief Executive of InternetNZ.

Under the TPP, all member countries must adopt shared rules on intellectual property. This means a range of New Zealand laws will need to change to satisfy the TPP.

In particular, InternetNZ is concerned about new restrictions on digital locks or 'Technological Protection Measures,' which could unfairly restrict New Zealanders' access to content. Given the huge number of ways the Internet is being used, and the new ways yet to be invented, the impact of such locks in future could be even worse than we know today.

The proposed digital lock rules restrict what New Zealanders can do with both digital content and with physical things that they have purchased. Overseas, similar restrictions have meant people have to ask permission to repair a car or tractor, because the software in it is a copyright work. Right now, similar rules in the USA are facing a legal challenge because of those restrictive effects.

"We are pleased that this Bill allows for exceptions to the newly restrictive rules, which go some way to restoring the fairer balance in today's copyright law that the TPP damages," says Carter.

"However, we are concerned that the threat of lawsuits or criminal liability will stop people using content and technology in legitimate ways. This law may scare people away from innovating, which is not good for our creative industry or anyone else."

The TPP itself calls for a balance of rights, and suggests the use of exceptions so that copyright law does not unfairly stop people from innovating and using new technologies.

"It is vital for the most expansive possible set of exceptions to be put in place. Regardless of what happens with the TPP, InternetNZ supports a review of copyright law, to ensure our balance is fair and up to date."

InternetNZ's submission also considered the proposed extension of copyright terms. TPP's requirement of an extension of the term goes against its promise of balance in IP rights, but isn't a negotiable part of the deal at this stage.

InternetNZ says that the upcoming review of copyright should consider this balance as soon as possible. The organisation has argued for fair copyright laws throughout the TPP negotiations and hopes the submission will be carefully considered in the work of the Select Committee scrutinising the draft legislation.

"It is important that this law is finalised with careful consideration so that, as a country, we minimise the very real risks of unfairly restricting New Zealanders' access to content," says Carter.

You can read InternetNZ's submission here: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Bill