A number of groups are warning that a potential new trade deal could force countries across the Pacific region to impose new restrictions on copyright.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is a multi-national trade treaty being negotiated by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.
Critics say a leaked draft of the agreement shows that the intellectual property chapter could put a crimp on freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process.
The TPP, warns the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), would extend copyright terms well beyond existing agreements so that some material will not enter the public domain for as much as 120 years after its creation.
“Given that the rights granted under copyright law have become incredibly strong -- the copyright term has gone from 14 years to now lasting successive lifetimes -- exceptions should be reinforced in order to maintain the ‘balance’ in copyright law that everyone talks about when they talk about copyright,” says Susan Chalmers of Infojustice.
For teachers and educators, the ability to use copyright material without permission or payment for educational purposes is critical.
“Teachers and students need to be able to make use of everything from newspaper articles and short passages from books, to film and television clips,” notes Education International’s Deputy General Secretary David Edwards. “Most countries recognize this and provide copyright exceptions for education and research, but the TPP could threaten that.”
Edwards adds that it is important for EI affiliates in TPP countries to lobby their governments ahead of the next round of negotiations scheduled for 3-12 December in Auckland, New Zealand.