Changes to copyright law will be needed now New Zealand has signed the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, according to InternetNZ.
The non-profit internet watchdog says it has long been following the impact of the TPPA on internet policy issues, particularly in the areas of copyright and patents, dealt with in the Intellectual Property chapter of the agreement.
The organisations says the most recent leaked text of the TPPA showed some problematic changes to copyright law, particularly a long extension to the term of copyright, from life plus 50 to life plus 70 years.
InternetNZ chief executive Jordan Carter says announcements this morning confirm the final agreement includes this change, and it seems that the ability to take creative approaches to the problems of “orphan works” (copyright works where the owner of the copyright can no longer be found) has been ruled out.
“Our understanding is that the electronic commerce chapter of the agreement creates new rules about the ability to require local presence of data stored for use by internet applications,” Carter says. “We will investigate this and the impact on local companies and the availability of applications further, as more detail is released.”
On the positive side of the ledger, Carter adds, it seems fears from a few years ago of major problems for Internet Service Providers have been avoided.
"InternetNZ has met with New Zealand negotiators and has been a strong voice for the internet community," he says.
“We have brought forward our concerns about many issues such as copyright – including term extension, enforcement and transmission into New Zealand law – and patents. No definite conclusions on these, or any other issues, can be reached until the detail of the TPPA is made public,” he says.
“We hope that our concerns – and those raised by other technology sector organisations – have been listened to.
“The sooner the final text is made public, the better.”
Carter says InternetNZ remains concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding the agreement.
“As is the case with most trade negotiations, the TPPA has been negotiated in full secrecy,” he says. “Such trade policy approaches are the opposite of how internet policy is and should be made – in the open, subject to scrutiny, and open to everyone’s suggestions and ideas.”
He adds, “Copyright, in particular, should not be subject to closed door deals. This approach breeds distrust and suspicion, halts participation and hands huge advantages to those with most to gain and most to lose – not usually the general public.”
Carter says InternetNZ will continue to be vigilant against any threat to the open internet in New Zealand.
“We will also continue to reiterate our policy principles and our very reasonable expectation that all policy discussions relating to the internet should be open and inclusive,” he says.
“As more detail becomes available, we will have more to say.”
InternetNZ will be participating in the legislative process that seeks to implement the TPPA to ensure that the open internet is both protected and enhanced, Carter adds.
“As legislation to implement the TPPA’s changes is put together, in the copyright area at least, we will argue for some clear wins for New Zealand internet users to be made at the same time.”