Jailbreak a phone, go to jail: Copyright law, the TPP way

Even more examples of ill-informed thinking lurk in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the SOPA/CISPA/PIPA redux

Last year we witnessed a series of oafish attempts at legislation designed to reward the content cartel by eviscerating basic rights of Netizens. SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA -- it didn't matter. When one measure was defeated, another slightly different one would rise up to take its place.

It's like a zombie movie, only when you cut off their heads, they grow a new one with a different name and keep on coming.

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Well, guess what? There's a new zombie in town named the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It's a trade deal involving a dozen Pacific Rim nations and the United States, but with extraspecial benefits for copyright holders.

Toilet paper protections

Last week WikiLeaks (remember them?) published a chapter of the proposed treaty, dealing with intellectual property issues, which until now had been kept secret from the public. In addition, the Electronic Frontier Foundation outlines the many gifts for the content cartel contained in the treaty. They include:

  • Yet another extension of copyright periods. Walt Disney may have had his head frozen and buried in a cryogenic vault 40 years ago, but if TPP passes, Mickey Mouse will still be under Disney's lock and key for another 35 years to come.
  • Forces countries with more enlightened copyright laws to adopt the industry-friendly protections found in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, perhaps the worst tech-related legislation ever passed.
  • Makes copyright violation an offense punishable by criminal and civil penalties, while attempts to circumvent copy protection would be a separate offense, even when no copyright infringement has been alleged.

According to ExtremeTech's Joel Hruska, the TPP could also strengthen software patents, limit access to generic medicines, and criminalize the jailbreaking of cellphones. Anybody got a problem with any of that?

Naturally, our Uncle in all his wisdom wants to fast-track approval of this treaty through Congress, lest anyone bother to take the time to read it. That may not go so well for him. Just as naturally, there's a movement underway on the Net to stop it.

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