Opening a New Front Against Secret IP Treaties

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Fri May 17 12:37:27 BST 2013

We Beat Them to Lima: Opening a New Front Against Secret IP Treaties

An expanded edition of EFFector, EFF's almost-weekly newsletter.

Danny O'Brien, Electronic Frontier Fiundation, 15th May 2013

I’m Danny O’Brien, EFF’s new International Director. Five years ago, I
worked on the EFF team that identified the threat of ACTA, a secret
global intellectual property treaty we discovered was being used to
smuggle Internet control provisions into the laws of over thirty
countries. Together with an amazing worldwide coalition of activists
from Europe to South Korea, we beat back that threat.

I’m writing to you today to explain what's happening with the new ACTA:
the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP has been around since the Bush
administration, but recently the pace has picked up, with governments
saying they want to get the agreement signed and done by the end of this

Global activism can stop TPP, but preventing the endless merry-go-round
of new IP treaties means tackling the problem at its roots. I'd like to
describe what we're doing on both those fronts, and how you can help.
But first, I'd like you to meet this gentleman:

Meet Michael Froman: The Most Important Man in Global Copyright

This is Michael Froman, and barring a scandal, he's about to be the new
United States Trade Representative (USTR). The U.S. Trade Representative
negotiates international trade agreements on behalf of the United
States. Congress has one opportunity to ask him questions at his
nomination hearing.

They should take full advantage of it. Right now, the only reason the
public knows anything about what the USTR is doing on IP is that
whistleblowers participating in the treaty process have leaked what they
can. (Congressman Darrell Issa re-published the leaks on his own office
site, over the USTR's objections).

Those documents show that the American proposals for the Trans-Pacific
Partnership would export the worst of modern U.S. copyright law, and
thwart other countries' ability to create laws that best meet their
domestic needs:

# The proposed rules could prevent individuals from circumventing DRM—
the technical barriers put in place to make copying, accessing, and
sharing copyrighted content more difficult. This would hinder technical
fixes necessary to make content accessible for the blind or to unlock
your phone.

# It contains provisions that would, by default, regulate "temporary"
reproductions of copyrighted files, thereby restricting all kinds of
intrinsic functions of your computer.

# It increases copyright terms well beyond international standards,
adding some 20 years to copyright terms worldwide, potentially robbing
the public domain of decades of cultural works.

# In many countries, an allegation of infringement is not enough to get
material taken offline. TPP’s proposals, by contrast, put in place a
system (similar to the one we have in the U.S.) that encourages ISPs to
take down content based on nothing but a notice. We’ve seen how that can
be abused here—do we really want to export it wholesale?

Treaties like this also help to fossilize existing U.S. law and force
other countries to sign up for American missteps. Momentum in D.C. for
rolling back copyright terms and DRM law is growing, but opponents of
those changes have argued that lawmakers can't undo their own mistakes—
because, they say, we've already signed onto IP trade agreements that we
supposedly can't undo.
What We're Doing

We're asking U.S. senators to use the nomination process to grill Froman
about the USTR’s IP plans, and we’re petitioning him directly to adopt
meaningful transparency and stop using trade agreements to push
aggressive IP programs worldwide.

Could Froman really reform U.S. trade agreement strategies? Yes, but
only if he and the Administration face coordinated pressure from
American politicians and citizens plus resistance from other countries
pushing back against American demands.

Which brings us to why EFF's Maira Sutton and Katitza Rodriguez are
remotely working right now—from Lima, the capital of Peru.

Yara TPP!

Starting today, the U.S. Trade Rep and negotiators from 10 other
countries are meeting in Lima to take part in the latest round of
negotiations for TPP.

We beat them there. Kat is our International Rights Director. She's also
Peruvian. She's spent the last month in Lima working with fellow
Peruvian technologists, makers and artists, highlighting how TPP will
affect them. She has been working with the other groups fighting TPP on
the ground, including Hiperderecho, Peru's own digital rights activism

The result? An explosion in information and public debate in Peru about
TPP. Kat has written Spanish language editorials, met with Peruvian
politicians, journalists, students, free software advocates and
filmmakers. Lima's hackerspace, Escuelab, hosted a two-day hackathon
that produced memes and microsites that explain TPP to fellow Peruvians
and the world. There's even the inevitable Peruvian TPP Downfall video.
Other hackerspaces took part around the world, producing sites with
titles like

The slogan and hashtag of Peruvians' digital rights activists is
"#yaratpp", a slang term which means (roughly) "Warning! TPP!".
Peruvians have joined the fight at, asking their
President to set clear non-negotiable lines to ensure that Peruvians'
fundamental freedoms are respected in the TPP negotiations.
Help Us Stop the TPP – and the IP Treaty Tarpit

The TPP negotiators are on deadline in Lima. They've already said TPP's
IP chapter is one of the "more challenging issues that remain." It's
more challenging still when the host country is demanding to know why
this trade agreement would undermine local entrepreneurs and artists.
Meanwhile, politicians back in the U.S. are demanding a closer look at
their head negotiator's IP stance.

Like battling ACTA, stopping the TPP and its descendants is going to be
a long-term fight that will take a worldwide effort. But you can help us
today by taking advantage of the Froman nomination to speak truth to

Sign our petition demanding that Froman usher in a new age of
transparency as the next US Trade Representative:

Stop USTR Secrecy

If you’re in the U.S., please also send a message to your representative
to demand an end to these secret backdoor negotiations:

Don’t Let Them Trade Away Our Internet Freedoms

And if you're in Peru, join Hiperderecho and tell the Peruvian president
that our rights over the Internet are non-negotiable:

Pidamos juntos límites no negociables

Stay tuned to the Deeplinks blog for more updates on the fight for
sensible global copyright policy.


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at
website -
public key -

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