TPPA, Part 2: Protecting Intellectual Property Even If It Kills You

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is an expansion of “Stop Online Privacy Act” (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), the anti-piracy laws that are for now put on hold by the Congress. PIPA and SOPA were created to stop the theft of copyrighted materials that included movies and music downloaded from the internet.  Google (which owns YouTube) and Yahoo were supposed to police their own sites, which they claimed would cost them a great deal of time and money. It is estimated that 48 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube every minute! If Google and Yahoo refused to comply with the law, the entertainment industry could shut down any website it thought was in violation, including Google and Yahoo.  Since the new trade agreement is international the entertainment industry can take up the argument again and have more influence than SOPA or PIPA ever did.

pills and mints

Movies and TV, pills -- and some sugar for the corporations

According to Public Knowledge, a non-profit Washington, D.C. based public interest group that is involved in intellectual property law,  “The TPP should not protect incidental copies. These are the small copies that computers need to make in the process of moving data around. These files are used temporarily.”

“Under section 107, of the Fair Use Act, a copyrighted work is not copyright infringement, even if such use technically violates section 106. While fair use explicitly applies to use of copyrighted work for criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research purposes, the defense is not limited to these areas.”

The leaked proposal does not currently have limitations or exceptions, so no one knows if this proposal will affect schools or libraries. Currently the law states that “it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce no more than one copy or phonorecord of a work.”

When I was in college I made cassette recordings for disabled students. They gave me their educational materials and I would put that material on tape so they could listen to it.  I was paid by the university as part of my work study program, however according to the new law I would be considered a criminal.

The TPP could make downloading music or file sharing a crime, and not just fines but real jail time.   Copyright law now states that books are the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, but this group wants it to be longer. The concern is this will greatly limit creativity. We would never see the remake of ‘The Little Mermaid’ again, which might not be a bad thing.

There are real concerns over stolen intellectual property that I do find myself agreeing with.  A  video store not far from me openly sells videos that have been “ripped off”. These videos come from overseas, usually China or South Korea and feature movies that are still in local theatres. How would you like it if someone bought your video for $5 and you didn’t get as much royalties from movie theatres because you lost customers who bought illegal videos instead? There are even websites located all over the world that show stolen movies and television shows.  If videos are being sold on the black market then who compensates all those involved in making the movie? Look what happened to the music industry. EMI and Capital Records were hurt by all the illegal downloading and they are still laying off employees to this day, so I can see both sides of this argument.

So what does the entertainment industry have to do with the pharmaceutical industry?  They both emphasize that their primary targets are foreign Web sites that sell counterfeit goods. The pharmaceutical industry has problems with the prescription drugs that many people order online. The drug companies say that these online companies not only hurt sales but they are inferior products and are probably counterfeit. Its true, you can order all kinds of drugs, herbs and vitamins from around the world via the net.  Who really knows if they are counterfeit or not, I do know that some drugs are cheaper in Mexico and Canada compared to the U.S., and buying them online is definitely cheaper than physically going to these countries.

TPPA does not stop there though. The United States lobby group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) targeted New Zealand’s Pharmac (New Zealand’s pharmaceutical purchasing agency) as a problem that needs to be addressed in the talks. Pharmac has helped New Zealand’s citizens save a great deal of money.  Their Prime Minister said he was open to changes in their policy.  Fortunately someone with clout in New Zealand  rejected the U.S. proposal, and other countries rejected the US proposal to extend drug patent monopolies. Because this text was leaked, it allowed government health officials and activists in  these countries to fight back.  If PhRMA  got their way it could set a precedent to undermine negotiations to buy Medicare prescriptions in the U.S.  It could also affect access to affordable generic medicine in other parts of the developing world.

According to the Malaysian Aids council, “We are aware that the United States tabled intellectual property (IP) proposals during previous TPPA rounds that would require significant changes to Malaysian law. If adopted, the U.S. intellectual property proposals to the TPPA would restrict generic competition; raise drug prices and make medicines less affordable and less available to Malaysians. HIV & medicines, Hepatitis C treatments, cancer medicines, essential medicines, and lifesaving medicines for many chronic diseases are all under threat. Many people in Malaysia already lack access to life saving medicines and new trade barriers will further limit their access to affordable medicines.”  The law could also enforce patents against surgeons and other medical professionals.

The entertainment executives joined the TPPA negotiations alongside pharmaceutical companies to fight against anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting so the message would not be just associated with Hollywood.  I understand the movie and music industry wanting to protest their intellectual property, but people need to be able to have access to affordable medicine in the U.S. and in other countries. No one ever died from not seeing the latest movie from Hollywood.

The Series:  I Went to the Trans-Pacific Parnership Event and All I Got was this Lousy Pen!

1.  The Sierra Club, San Diego Chapter
2. Protecting Intellectual Property Even If It Kills You.
3. Truckin’, Smokin’, and Walmartin’!
4. GMO Proponent Claims, “Yo Soy Un Hombre Sincero!”

About Inge

Cancer survivor. Healthy organic food coach. Public speaker. If you have a story you want told, contact me at