TPP and Reality: A Look at the Law Times Article

We’ve been running a project that’s all about debunking myths perpetuated by supporters of the trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Today, we turn our attention to an article in a newspaper from the Law Times that is also running some of these myths.

Earlier, we ran an article that debunked myths that were presented by Richard C. Owens. It was because other supporters have started citing the article as iron clad proof that the TPP is a good idea. Last year, we ran an article that debunked 5 more myths that were perpetuated by supporters of the TPP. To our surprise, both articles were by the same author. We can assure you that it was actually coincidence that both pieces we’ve fully debunked turned out to be authored by the same person. We’re not actively trying to single Owens out and target him specifically.

So, having said that, we turn to a second piece that is being cited as iron clad proof that the TPP is a great idea. This time, it’s an article in the Law Times that says that in the opinion of “lawyers”, the TPP would have minimal impact on copyright law here in Canada.

The surprise here is that this is ultimately a scan from a newspaper page. While an odd form of information by today’s standards, we’ll, nevertheless, go along with it as the medium says nothing about the content in question.

The article speaks to three layers: Nathaniel Lipkus, Michael Crichton and Jason Hynes. Judging by the pictures, this isn’t the same Crichton who wrote the novel Sphere.

In the article, Lipkus commented that the TPP wouldn’t require many changes in the law. the reason, he suggests, is that we already have a modern IP system. This would, interestingly enough, stand in stark contrast with Music Canada’s position which is that copyright laws need to be “modernized“. It’s interesting because supporters of the TPP and Music Canada generally share the same side on the copyright debate in that cracking down on fair dealings and suing music fans for millions without a shred of proof (among other things) is the way to go with copyright laws.

Unfortunately for Lipkus, the remark that the TPP would change little to nothing in Canadian copyright law was previously debunked twice here on Freezenet.

Michael Crichton, meanwhile, remarked that the TPP is not a “game changer” as far as Intellectual Property (IP) is concerned. This, of course, was debunked as previously mentioned.

Chrichton also remarked on the annex which would mean that notice-and-notice would be preserved in Canada. A claim that we debunked. On this front, we should also point out that Canada’s privacy laws are generally stronger than other countries. Under the TPP, there is a mandate for ISP level surveillance. Any organization that wants to tap into the network directly would have the power to do so. So, the level of protection afforded to Canadians is also greatly reduced.

Jason Hynes contribution to the piece is saying that he disputes the studies and research on how extension of copyright would cost millions of added expenses. The reason, he suggests, is that it was based on New Zealand. Because Canada’s economy is not exactly the same as New Zealand, the study, he suggests, is simply irrelevant. The comparison may have come from Michael Geist who did cite that study. If you read that article, you’ll quickly realize that this wasn’t the only study that was even mentioned. Geist also pointed to EFF which posted other studies including one how it would cost Australia $88 million AUD per year. Dollar value isn’t all that is being lost. Many critics of copyright term extension point out that works are not falling into the public domain for another 20 years if the extension is from life +50 years to life +70 years.

Curiously, Hynes also remarked that there are very few works that would be in demand after 90 or 110 years from now. Going along that line of thinking, this is actually an argument against term extension. If there is going to be so little demand for older works, it means that the added value for term extension is, at best, minimal.

Hynes also remarked with the following:

“Much of the criticism ignores the details of the agreement, or fails to understand that Canada has multiple interests to advance,” he says.

He then goes on to say that TPP is “probably” a good deal for Canadians.

This is probably the weakest argument in the whole article. I would invite Hynes to explain how a word-for-word comparison between the leaked and official text “ignores the details of the agreement”. To my knowledge, the only way you could get any more of a detailed analysis outside of a word-for-word comparison is a word-for-word legal annotation conducted by teams of lawyers statisticians and more. As it stands, a word-for-word analysis is a highly detailed look at the document.

Either way, the claims we pointed to are pretty much debunked.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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