Australia Will Oppose Parts Of The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Australia Will Oppose Parts Of The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Australia doesn’t want to rock the boat too much when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership: a free-trade agreement between us and a bunch of important allies including the United States. Trade Minister Andrew Robb, however, has assured Aussies that we won’t agree to any arrangement that sees internet service providers bear the legal brunt for the behaviour of users.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed free-trade agreement between 12 countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan and Canada to name a few. The goal of the TPP is to “harmonise trade tariffs” and other laws to make trade between the 12 countries easier and more equitable for those involved.

Unfortunately, the agreement has been kept increasingly under wraps during the negotiation process, and following the leak of a section pertaining to intellectual property reform within the agreement, you can kind of see why.

Wikileaks revealed that the TPP’s section on intellectual property proposes sweeping reforms, which include enforcing geoblocks and restricting the sale of devices that might be able to circumvent geoblocking. Wave goodbye to those IT Pricing Inquiry recommendations.

Under the TPP, Aussies could also feasibly pay more for video games, software and tech in general if these clauses were enforced.

The document also prescribes an increase in liability for carriers like iiNet or YouTube that may see them held responsible for the material their users “pirate”. That’s of particular concern, especially considering the precedent set by the iiTrial that saw iiNet defeat the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) in a trial attempting to hold the carrier liable for the alleged piracy of users.

Long story short, it’s a scary document for Australia and its intellectual property legislation.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb, however, seems to have your back on this one.

Speaking on the potential threat to internet service providers following trade negotiations in South Korea, Robb told journalists that Australia would not agree to a document “that would criminalise conduct that is currently legal in Australia”, but stressed that the TPP would do wonders for cross-border e-commerce for example.

Robb refused to comment on the accuracy of the leaked draft, while stressing that if it was in fact the real document, it’s still in draft form, and drafts can be changed.

Here’s hoping Robb sticks to his guns on this one. [AFR]