Rep. Zoe Lofgren on Emerging & Controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Treaty

December 5, 2013
Press Release

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) participated in a press conference today voicing concerns over the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.  During the press conference, held on the eve of this coming weekend's high-level ministerial meeting on TPP in Singapore in which a possible final deal may be announced, Rep. Lofgren focused her remarks on troubling provisions related to Internet Freedom, consumer rights, copyright, and fair use and the public domain in the digital age: 

"I just wanted to address the leaked IP chapter of the TPP because we've expressed concern in the past that these trade agreements really are at the expense of consumer rights, fair use, and the public domain.  In fact I wrote to the USTR [U.S. Trade Representative] about these issues in September 2012 and it doesn't look like they've been resolved.

"First, the leaked TPP text would apparently export new copyright terms to signatory countries, rather than allowing the copyright term to be determined by each country.  We are trying to press a current copyright term of life plus seventy years – I mean we're talking about a couple of centuries in terms.  Mexico is talking about a hundred years.  I personally think that's too long, but the TPP would lock that in for all signatory countries. 

"Second, it looks like there would be new restrictions on limitations and exceptions to copyright such as what we in the U.S. enjoy as fair use.  I believe that fair use in the digital age is absolutely crucial to creativity, education, social commentary, free speech and yet it appears that the signatories would confine copyright limitations to certain special cases.  This could lead to an abuse by rights holders. It is not innocuous and would be at odds with the First Amendment of the United States.

"Third, the leaked TPP provides extensive provisions on technical protection measures, such as DRM, to prevent copying or modifying copyrighted work.  Now this is something that has come to the public's attention here in the United States when the Librarian [of Congress] said you couldn't unlock your cellphone. We're trying to change it.  This provision looks like it would lock in really backwards provisions of law.

"In closing, this is something that is backdooring, through a trade agreement, that which could not be obtained in Congress.  I think we all remember SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Millions of Americans shut the phone system down in the United States Congress.  It looks like there are some elements of SOPA that are being inserted into this trade agreement and I don't think the American people are going to put up with it."

Click here for audio of Rep. Lofgren's remarks.          

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