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Thursday, 14 November 2013 14:08

TPP leak reveals Australian government secrets Featured

By
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Wikileaks has leaked a draft of the IP chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, confirming the Australian government is backing a reinforcement of geoblocking and will also be opposing moves to make ISPs not responsible for what their users do.

The document revealed Australia is opposed to limiting the liability of internet service providers who are found to have users infringing on copyright through their networks.

Article QQ.I.1 (Internet Service Provider Liability) states "Each Party shall limit the liability of, or the availability of remedies against, internet service providers [when acting as intermediaries], for infringement of copyright or related rights that take place on or through communication networks, in relation to the provision or use of their services.]

The article was proposed by Chile, Brunei, New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore and Mexico, but was opposed by Australia and the US.

The TPP is an agreement that's currently being negotiated between Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, aimed at simplifying trade between the 12 nations. Negotiations have been ongoing for close to two and a half years.

As we reported back in July when the Australian parliament released the findings of its inquiry into the 'Australia Tax', it said it wanted to enshrine in law “consumers’ rights to circumvent technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation”.

The Wikileaks revelations mean however that the government has, in secret, been advocating for the opposite. The leaks show that Australia has backed the USA in their attempts to negotiate for stricter rules on geoblocking, and supports the USA’s proposal to make it illegal to circumvent these restrictions.

An amendment to the TPP proposed by Canada would make it legal to buy and sell devices which defeat region coding, such as mod chips for consoles. Australia and the US oppose the amendment.

The Sydney Morning Herald also reported medicine prices could rise under the TPP. The one area in which Australia opposes the US is on the issue of drug patents, with the US pushing for even stronger patent rights for drug companies.

Intellectual property law expert Matthew Rimmer told Fairfax the draft was ''very prescriptive'' and strongly reflected US trade objectives and multinational corporate interests ''with little focus on the rights and interests of consumers, let alone broader community interests''.

''One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish list for major corporations; and the copyright parts of the text support such a view,'' Rimmer told the news organisation.

''Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft, the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this.''

TPP negotiations are still ongoing, and the US and Australia are pushing for the agreement to be settled by the end of this year.

Media and other observers are barred from attending.

Read the Wikileaks leaked draft for yourself here.

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