Saturday, March 23, 2013


The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't getting enough attention (by design, it seems.) The idea is that a supranational body would be empowered to override national regulations if a country had a regulatory regime in, say environmental policy or copyright policy, that was more restrictive than other countries, it would be forced to bring its regime in line with the others.

The EFF thinks this is a really bad idea.

All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the US, this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of US copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA]) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked US-proposed IP chapter also includes provisions that appear to go beyond current US law.The leaked US IP chapter includes many detailed requirements that are more restrictive than current international standards, and would require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws. 

So does the Sierra Club (pdf).

Unfortunately, the DOE loses its authority to regulate exports of natural gas to countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement that includes so-called “national treatment for trade in gas.”
The TPP, therefore, could mean automatic approval of liquid natural gas (LNG) export permits—without any review or consideration—to TPP countries.
The broader idea is the elimination of national regulatory authority over production and distribution of manufactured goods, natural resources and "intellectual property."  To be clear, this is not an instance of "free trade." The elimination of the public domain under copyright law is a restriction on trade. A bad one. (For more on this and similar topics, see Dean Baker's The End of Loser Liberalism.)