Exposed: What You Should Know About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Few would disagree with the statement that 1974 was not Richard Nixon’s year. Impeached on grounds of obstruction of justice, failure to uphold laws and refusal to produce subpoenaed material, he resigned a week later–but not in time to prevent one of his final actions. Before he rode Marine One into exile, Nixon facilitated a stealthy “power grab” that has come back to haunt us 40 years later: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Sounds benign, but for proponents of free speech, privacy rights and due process associated with intellectual property law around the globe, this is no kinder and gentler partnership. The multi-national trade agreement gives governments of 12 nations the power to thwart intellectual property laws and bend enforcement rules so dramatically, creative and intellectual innovations could go the way of the Dodo Bird.
Who’s Impacted by this partnership?
Artists, writers, inventors—indeed, anyone with bankable, marketable ideas in the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei Darussalam–could lose control over rights and royalties associated with their ideas, and there may be nothing citizens of these countries can do to stop it, unless the TPP is torpedoed. These nations make up 40-percent of the world’s gross product, so the impact of the trans-pacific partnership could be dramatic.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership doesn’t discriminate
Within its intellectual property tenets, just about every type of legal protection—patents, trademarks, copyrights—would be diluted or rendered impotent. While the TPP has yet to make headlines in the aforementioned nations, it’s being leaked in bits and pieces to the media by whistle blowers in possession of the most recent versions (February 2011) of this draconian agreement.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re Taylor Swift, royalties earned from songs you write following your high-profile romantic breakups likely wouldn’t be effected, but anyone in the universe wishing to “borrow” your lyrics could hypothetically slide by without facing legal action. Swift has the money and star power to hire attorneys to fight infringements, but if you’re a not-yet-famous blogger, each time you cast a wide net of creativity, you could kiss your unique ideas good-bye.
The irony and the ecstasy
If enforced, the trans-pacific partnership has the potential to re-write intellectual property rules in perpetuity, but the agreement isn’t short on irony: While nations barely cooperate these days (outside the occasional humanitarian effort), worldwide enforcement of the TPP would require nations on the aforementioned list to conform their domestic laws and policies each to the other. The irony doesn’t end there. Should an already-comatose Congress decide to jump in and act, it may not have the power to intervene due to partnership language.
The biggest impact, as usual, will be to the economies of nations most dependent upon bringing intellectual properties to market. Economies could take serious hits down the road if, for example, U.S. technology companies are restricted by this partnership and new designs for tablets and smartphones never make it to the consumer marketplace. Use your imagination. Ramifications far exceed the space allocated within this post.
Want to Vanquish the trans-pacific partnership?
You don’t have to be a whistle blower or a performance artist to care deeply about the abolition of the TPP. Concerned citizens are beginning to react publicly to trans-pacific partnership leaks and the more information revealed about this agreement, the higher the chances of repeal if nations become collectively angry enough.
Channel your inner activist
If the whole idea of this partnership is distasteful, learn more about it. Address your concerns to members of congress (state and federal). Let anyone within shouting distance know that you are appalled, that you support the expansion of the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and are committed to protecting people who enrich our lives with art and innovation by, for example, advocating on behalf of time extensions for copyright holders.
Join The Sierra Club to get informed about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
No meetings. No dues. No deadlines, but even your small efforts can end the criminalization of everyday Internet communications, thwart service providers forced to hand over your personal information, prohibit media giants from placing unfair restrictions on your ability to read, create and post online content and stop the establishment of parallel legal systems capable of advocating on behalf of profit-taking corporations rather than individuals.
Need more inspiration?
If you’re not already convinced that the TPP is just plain wrong, remember this: More than 600 industry lobbyists are promoting this agreement and they’re working hard every day to make sure it’s not countermanded. Visit http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12349 and http://stopthetrap.net/ to obtain more ammunition for the long fight ahead.