WikiLeaks blew open the secret negotiations behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on Wednesday, releasing draft text that looks good for big corporations and bad for ordinary people.

The TPP is an existing treaty that could be expanded — with new rules — to cover as many as 13 countries and as much as 40 percent of the world’s GDP. The scary thing about international agreements like this one is that they make local fights moot. Did you sign a petition to stop SOPA or PIPA? Too bad. The TPP would obviate those proposed U.S. laws.

The Verge explains:

Critics have wasted no time in attacking the treaty, with IP reform group Knowledge Ecology International calling it “bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine, and profoundly bad for innovation.” Many of the criticisms focus on the treaty’s “enforcement” section, which includes language that critics say mirrors similar provisions from America’s controversial SOPA and ACTA bills. That includes provisions that would extend copyright to temporary copies of media, and others that place the burden of enforcement specifically on local ISPs, which critics say would further establish ISPs as a de facto copyright police. Other provisions would increase the software controls on consumer hardware. “The anti-circumvention provisions seem to cement the worst parts of the anti-phone-unlocking law that we saw this summer,” says Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press. “We can’t change the US law if we’re locked into these international agreements.”

Beyond the IP provisions, many of the battles see the US alone fighting for stronger patent measures on pharmaceuticals, while other countries work for less restrictive terms and policies. One US proposal would delay the market entry of generic drugs if the patent or marketing campaign had met with “an unreasonable delay” from the approval process. Canada, New Zealand, and Japan are opposing the provision, seeing it as a simple ploy by pharmaceutical companies to extend their patents. Another US proposal would offer the companies “data exclusivity,” preventing regulators from using established data to register generic medicines, further delaying the entry of generic alternatives to patented drugs.

One provision “shall make patents available for inventions for the following: plants and animals.”

Other proposals go further than simply extending patent terms, seeking to expand the scope of the patent system overall. One particularly controversial passage, proposed by the US, would “make patents available for inventions for the following: plants and animals.” A further line would allow patents on “diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals” — essentially a patent on medical procedures, something medical societies have consistently opposed.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer


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