Jessica Lynch’s Review of “Copyright Catastrophe: How the Trans Pacific Partnership Puts Your Privacy in Peril”

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Copyright Catastrophe: How the Trans Pacific Partnership Puts Your Privacy in Peril (D1)

Session Presenter:
Cari Lynn Postnikoff, BA, MLIS – Grande Prairie Public Library

Article by: Jessica Lynch

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) conference offered many interesting and inspiring sessions. I am very fortunate to have attended this year’s session about the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This is a topic that can have major consequences for information professionals on an international level for years to come. The speaker, Cari Lynn Postnikoff did the topic justice with an outstanding delivery and captivating visual aids which provided the attendees with a clear sense of how the TPP might affect copyright in Canada. This was especially impressive given the short (30 minute) time frame.

The TPP is an international trade deal currently being negotiated between countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. As with many international negotiations, the details are private, but parts have been leaked. Wikileaks has released copies of drafts of the intellectual property chapter as well as the various countries points of view on the various points discussed. Much of the contents include some downright frightening possibilities for us if Canada decides to go through with the agreement. Most of the strict and ridiculous articles having been proposed by the United States and supported by Australia, powerful nations that may intimidate others. Canada was late joining negotiations and does not have the same power as other negotiating countries. For instance, Canada may not reopen any chapters that have previously been agreed upon nor does it have veto power concerning any chapter.

One notable causes for concern is Article QQ.G.6 concerning the length of copyright terms. This would extend copyright terms significantly. If the agreement were to take effect this year, the proposed changes would prevent new works from entering the public domain until at least 2035. This would both make many famous works less accessible to future generations as well as inhibit creativity and inventiveness that could result from these works.

A second Article (QQ.G.13) on digital rights management (DRM) issues would prohibit circumventing DRM measures for any purpose. This could make it illegal for those with disabilities to access material they own if they would have to break digital locks in order to convert to an accessible format. These are considerations taken into account in current Canadian law.

Article QQ.G.1 on making digital copies gives copyright holders power to allow or deny copying of their materials, which could cause problems since the internet relies on temporary copies even to show a web page. Concerning internet service provider (ISP) surveillance, Article QQ.I.1 requires ISPs to act as internet police, from blocking illegal content to terminating service (essentially cutting off internet access). This would mean violating user privacy and forcing ISPs to help.

The final Article (QQ.H.7) on criminal penalties suggests that breaking any of these copyright laws, to any degree must lead to criminal penalties. This would mean prison time for minor infringements such as writing a piece of fan fiction.

We should be aware of these potential changes and spread the word. Should we even be considering such an agreement? Read up about the agreement, including other chapters using sites like Michael Geist’s blog and OpenMedia.ca.

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