Prominent Academics Respond to the TPP

August 30, 2012 | By Carolina Rossini

We asked several academics to let us know their thoughts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The TPP is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement, and it will do so in a way that will have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, privacy, access to information, and ability to innovate. Their responses are below.

“TPP is a failed war continued. Let’s stop it.”

Lawrence Lessig
Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University
Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

“It is deeply disturbing that the USTR has been negotiating with other nations for IP rules that are not in conformity with and much stronger than US law. Our democracy is at risk if these officials can commit the US to a policy that would require Congress to change our laws without the benefit of public debate and input from all affected parties.”

Professor Pamela Samuelson
Berkeley Law School & School of Information
University of California at Berkeley

“The U.S. plan [for TPP] is everything it wanted in ACTA but didn’t get.  For example, the digital lock rules are the U.S. DMCA, complete with exact same exceptions (no more, no less). The term of copyright matches the U.S. term of life of the author plus 70 years, beyond the Berne requirement and Canadian law. The ISP provisions including a copy of the U.S. notice-and-takedown system as well as provisions that go beyond U.S. law. In other words, the U.S. envisions using the TPP to export its copyright law to as many countries as possible while creating backdoor changes to its own domestic laws.”

Professor Michael Geist
Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law
University of Ottawa

“Trade negotiations are still stuck in a 19th Century diplomatic mode, as if USTR was Castlereagh, negotiating in secrecy to defeat Napoleon.  Modern trade negotiations are law-making machines regulating the global economy. Full transparency should be the default position, especially when the affected industries staff the secrecy-bound advisory committees. Why are civil society groups the only ones not on the inside of the process?”

Professor Kevin Outterson
Boston University Law & Boston University School of Public Health
Editor in Chief, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Faculty Associate, Harvard Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics

“It looks as if the ACTA-like moves never stop. I call it the “réaction nobiliaire” in reference to the French nobility’s attempts to tighten medieval laws and thus recoup some lost economic advantages. It did not succeed, but it created sufficient misery to contribute to the triggering of the French revolution. Is this what these folks want? A new revolution?”

Professor Jean-Claude Guedon
Département de littérature comparée, FAS / Université de Montréal

If you live in the United States, join EFF and more than 25,000 people in sending a message to Congress members to demand an end to these secret backdoor negotiations:

Take Action TPP

You can also check out other ways of taking action here.

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