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Greens launch anti-TPP Internationale

Oz, Canada, New Zealand strike cross-border coalition against ACTA-like trade pact

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The increasingly-unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership – saviour of all that’s right and good in American IP protection or, if you prefer, a mandate for the US to extend its plain-silly intellectual property regimes to pastures new – is under renewed pressure from Green parties in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The three parliamentary Green parties yesterday issued a joint statement criticizing the “fundamentally undemocratic and non-transparent nature of the agreement.” It appears that the behind-closed-doors negotiations, plus the disparity between governments’ public statements (“no change in local legislation” a common theme) and leaked texts (flatly contradicting such statements) have spurred the three Green parties into action.

“More than just another trade agreement, the TPPA provisions could hinder access to safe, affordable medicines, weaken local content rules for media, stifle high-tech innovation, and even restrict the ability of future governments to legislate for the good of public health and the environment,” the statement says.

The statement notes that Canada and New Zealand have yet to follow Australia’s lead in opposing clauses that restrict local legislative rights as they relate to IP – a hot topic given the Australian government’s plain-packaging cigarette laws, which last week survived a High Court challenge from the tobacco industries. In addition, the Greens accuse TPP negotiators of trying to include Internet control provisions similar to those that were included in the now-discredited ACTA treaty, which in Europe looks like a Death Star exploding in parliamentary slow-mo.

The proposed agreement would also restrict parallel importing – something established as a right in Australian consumer trade law since the 1970s, and which would almost certainly spark a vigorous consumer backlash if ‘net shoppers twigged that the treaty might stop them picking up cheap software or gadgets from Hong Kong eBay merchants.

“While representatives of AT&T, Verizon, Cisco, major pharmaceutical companies and the Motion Picture Association of America have access to the text, democratically elected members of parliament, advocacy organisations for healthcare and the environment and ordinary citizens are being left out in the cold”, the statement notes. ®

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