We’ve received absolute assurances that nothing in the TPP will impact New Zealand’s current legal and policy position in relation to software patents. Hooray!Hooray indeed. There is always a danger trade negotiators will cut deals that are good in the short-term for our larger industries but hurt less visible sectors or, in the case of software, an important but fast-growing export industry that has yet to reach its full potential.
There is pressure to increase copyright terms by 20 years, to 70 years after death. Some other copyright changes are currently proposed, but no restriction of copyright exceptions (eg fair use provisions), and parallel importing won’t be affected.My income depends on copyright. That’s how I get paid as a writer and, most years, I get copyright payments when my work is reused. Copyright feeds my family, pays my mortgage and put my kids through education.
There could be some significant changes around Technological Protection Measures (TPMs), including criminalising circumvention of TPMs, however circumvention to access legitimate content won’t be criminalised. Global Mode-type services won’t be impacted (if they are legal under NZ law currently, which is still a little grey).TPMs include things like DVD region codes, encryption and geo-blocking. This is a mixed bag. While it’s understandable companies want to protect investments in intellectual property, DVD region codes are an abomination. They only exist so copyright holders can squeeze more from customers in certain parts of the world, possibly more than is fair. It’s not about protecting rights, it’s about gouging consumers.
There won’t be any changes in New Zealand in relation to ISP liability for copyright infringement and TPP won’t require disconnection of copyright infringer’s internet.On the surface this is good news.
Overall, if the assurances are borne out in the detail and no other fish-hooks found, we’re cautiously optimistic about the impact of TPP on the tech sector. But we’re still pretty grumpy about the secrecy aspects and want to see this changed for future negotiations.“Grumpy” is putting it mildly. The way this works in New Zealand is that we’re not told what’s in the agreement until we wake up one day and find that it is the law. Large companies with effective government lobbying will have some idea, but it looks like we don’t get a say. That’s not good and it’s not democratic.