Just a draft

Earlier this week, Megan Guess of arstechnica reported on the leaked portion of a treaty being developed in secret by the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The draft text covers fair use, with the United States and Australia apparently arguing that stricter interpretation is needed.

This seems to contradict what a spokesperson for the U.S. trade representative said earlier this year. At that time, it appeared they would lobby to make sure that the final agreement allowed exceptions for things like "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research". After all, copyright is supposed to balance a desire to incentivize new works with support for "the encouragement of learning".

Guess rightly points out that the language is just a draft, and things do change in the course of negotiations.

When the United States negotiated reciprocity with nations for whom the term of copyright was much longer than ours, it was deemed in our national interest to follow their lead and extend copyright by 20 years. This decision alone created much of what we now call the "orphan works problem".

Now, we have an opportunity to match what other countries do and extend (or at least protect) fair use across the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Maybe we will.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.