TPP’s Post-Mortem

The Electronic Frontier Foundation on the current state of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that EFF called last week has since been confirmed by White House officials. This marks the end of a long-running campaign against the secretive agreement that EFF began back in 2012.

But as we mentioned when breaking news of the death of the TPP, this doesn’t mean that the other TPP countries are out of danger yet. In fact only today New Zealand’s Parliament passed the implementing legislation required to ratify the TPP, including legislation that would extend the copyright term in New Zealand from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author.

The most dispiriting thing about this is that New Zealand’s lawmakers were not ignorant of the fact that they were doing this unilaterally and with no purpose. They knew it, and they did it anyway.

Japan, too, has moved closer to ratifying the TPP since we last wrote on the subject. Its ratification bill passed the lower house already, and will automatically take effect on December 9 if the upper house does not act on the bill sooner. Unlike in New Zealand, many of the changes made to Japanese law, including the copyright term extension, are not conditional on the TPP taking effect.

This places Japan at an even higher risk than New Zealand of suffering self-inflicted damage from the TPP that it will never offset through increased U.S. market access. Japan’s Aozora Bunko (literally Blue Sky Library, a repository of public domain works) is one national institution that will be particularly hard hit.

Thus there is much uncertainty in the future around digital trade agreements, and EFF doesn’t yet claim to have all the answers. But we can be certain about at least two things: that the TPP will not come into force in its present form, and that in consequence there is no rational reason for any of the countries that negotiated it to change their laws to conform with the agreement.

If you come from Japan, it is especially important for you to get involved with local activists who have the best chance of turning the government back from its misguided mission to implement this doomed agreement.