Taking the message to IP negotiators of TPPA

06 Mar 2012


As previously announced, InternetNZ was one of the supporters of NZRise’s lunch event on 2nd March for negotiators at the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in Melbourne. Four speakers presented their views on the Intellectual Property chapter with a focus on copyright, based on the US position leaked a year back.

Stuff called it a bid to save the Internet. Dramatic but some of the provisions, such as the possible copyright provisions for transient copies directly threaten an open Internet.

We believe it is better to raise our concerns with negotiators now. Once a draft treaty text is in place and officially released, the political deals would have been done. Changing the text substantively at that point is a hard if not impossible task.

What I said

Sean Flynn from InfoJustice has put together notes summarising the four presentations. Besides me, the other three speakers were Nicholas Gruen, CEO of Lateral Economics; Carolyn Dalton, Executive Director of Policy Australia; and Jonathan Band of Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

My approach was to keep it at a high level, given that the negotiators were giving up their time to have lunch with us. Sean’s summary of what I said is below. I hope at some time to write out the comments more fully. Also, check out the summary of the other three speakers. They were far more detailed than I was.

The internet is a way for all of us to do better.

Let me reflect back on two dates in history.

In 1865 the UK passed the red flag act. In response to the first horseless carriage. Required that maximum speed was 6 kph and manned by 3 people, including walker with red flag in front. The intent was to slow down change. Car industry shifted to Germany.

How will you manage today what we barely look at in our current mindset. Where is the tipping point between the old and the new? We are there now. This is the first time you see average users taking to the streets.

1473. 18 years after modern printing press. 1st bibles coming out in Europe. Today, we are 18 years after world wide web. 1473 required only authorized bibles. And had to comply with index of allowed books from church. Church was powerful. The establishment. The press led to a shift in modern society. Renaissance. Yet in 1473, who would back the press over the church.

You have a chance to back the internet without breaking it.

Covering transient copies with copyright will break the internet.



I think success would be a material, positive effect on the negotiations. That’s however impossible to really know.

An easier indicator of success is the number of people who attended the lunch (every IP chapter negotiator), informal feedback (very positive), and requests for further information (again, positive).

My own impression was that the lunch provided a unique way to directly get the message to negotiators. Even the Stakeholder Forum on Sunday only managed to get a few of the negotiators.

A second impression was that the Australian Digital Alliance is doing a super job in spreading the message in Australia. Other organisations that impressed at the Stakeholder Forum were Knowledge Ecology International, Free Software Foundation, and World Information Technology and Services Alliance.

And, the Australian Pirate Party did a good presentation too. Seriously. Hard-hitting yet on target.