International coalition favours Kiwi position on Copyright in TPP

Thursday 30 August 2012, 2:50PM
By Internet NZ

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) notes that the largest coalition of civil society groups to speak out on US copyright proposals in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has today indicated support for New Zealand's counterproposal.

In a joint statement published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the coalition roundly criticised the US proposal for "exceptions and limitations" to the rights of copyright owners, stating that the proposed text "would do little to incorporate public interest concerns in the TPP's copyright chapter." Such concerns include greater legal obligations on ISPs and restricting "rights that are essential to access to information, culture, science, education and innovation."

InternetNZ Policy Lead Susan Chalmers says exceptions and limitations to copyright are important for the public interest because they make sure that the monopoly rights granted to copyright owners are not abused.

"For example, New Zealand's copyright law has special provisions for 'transient' copying that are designed to ensure that ISPs and other Internet intermediaries - like search engines and other web services - avoid undue legal headaches for routine transmission of data that may contain copyright material.

"Exceptions like these are especially important in the digital environment to ensure that the Internet remains the open engine for growth and innovation that it traditionally has been."

Chalmers says the US proposal, also supported by Australia, would make it difficult for TPP countries to create meaningful exceptions and limitations to the overly strong copyright standards that the US wants from New Zealand and others.

The proposal of New Zealand, Chile, and a host of other parties received the relative support of the coalition, members of which are known for their strict scrutiny and rigorous legal analysis of TPP copyright proposals. The statement reads:

"We firmly believe that countries should be able to tailor copyright exceptions and limitations to their domestic needs, and extend such limitations into the digital environment to create new exceptions as they find appropriate. We consider that the proposal pushed forward by New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei - which also leaves to each country to decide which is appropriate for their digital environment - a better solution."

InternetNZ is a member of the international coalition and has participated in a number of stakeholder events at various TPP negotiation rounds.