Access Denied: Copyright Enforcement Through the TPP

Posted by Joel Milne on Mon, 12/31/1973 - 16:48

Earlier this week we posted about what the Internet will look like under the TPP, and how this secretive agreement will allow Big Media to criminalize your Internet use. With research compiled by our Coalition partners at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), we explained how the TPP will limit creativity and free speech online. Today, we’re going to explain how these methods will be enforced under the TPP, promoting a restricted and censored Internet.

Digital Locks
Digital Rights Management systems or ‘digital locks’ are one of the main methods used to enforce copyright. Efforts to lock down content have been a largely ineffective method of copyright enforcement, as it only takes one tech-savvy person to crack the lock and then make the content available to all.
However as the EFF notes, “[p]roponents of stronger intellectual property enforcement are pushing for provisions that make it difficult or illegal to break the locks on content, even if the end use is lawful.” Anti-circumvention measures make it illegal to crack the locks, or even to own technology that could be used in this way.
This means that if you circumvent these locks in order to have the freedom to use your legally-acquired, paid-for media as you see fit you will be breaking the law.
What this means for users: if the content you’ve purchased has digital locks, you won’t be allowed to carry out lawful actions like making backup copies, or placing content on different devices.
Temporary Copies
Big Media conglomerates are pushing for new rules in the TPP to redefine what a ‘copy’ is, so they can reassert control over the copying of media content. But according to the EFF this new definition includes even temporary copies of copyrighted work.
This is a problem because temporary copies aren’t copyright infringement, they are essential processes that allow the Internet function- computers automatically make temporary copies of files as part of their routine operations. But under this new definition of a ‘copy’ anyone viewing content on a device could potentially be committing copyright infringement.
Under current copyright law, for example in the U.S. and Canada, these temporary copies clearly fall under the exceptions provided by ‘fair use’- this isn’t intentional infringement, this is a component of basic computer processes. But as we saw in the previous post, the TPP is seeking to restrict the types of actions that can be seen as ‘fair use’.
What this means for users: users might have to pay more to access licensed content, as the costs of extra fees are passed on to consumers.
ISP Liability
Big Media is also proposing changes to Internet service provider liability, so that ISPs will be legally responsible for the actions of their users. Taken alongside the criminalization of temporary copies, this means that a media conglomerate could require fees be paid for basic content pieces that are required for the web to work. ISPs will then be pushed to enforce this regime by policing your online activity, sharing your private information, and facilitating fines.
ISP liability also threatens innovation and freedom of expression as ISPs are incentivized to remove content if they receive a notice of infringement, rather than using up resources to investigate whether the claim is legitimate.
Even if content is restored later, its immediate takedown can make all the difference with time-sensitive issues like news or protest. In addition, having ISPs monitor their users and disclose the identities of their customers to rights holders following an unsubstantiated allegation of infringement threatens citizens’ privacy.
What this means for users: your new creations, remixes, or even home videos, could be taken down by your ISP, even if no actual infringement has taken place.
The TPP will change how we behave online, threatening our freedom of expression, our ability to access information and criminalizing our Internet use.