Trade negotiators from the U.S. and its 11 Pacific Rim partners announced their agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) today, concluding the final round of closed negotiations in Atlanta and marking the culmination of seven years of secrecy. Throughout all that time, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has acted as a de facto representative of the Hollywood big media lobbies in pushing other countries to adopt the most punitive aspects of U.S. copyright policies—such as our over-the-top civil and criminal penalties—while at best giving lip service to pro-user aspects such as fair use.
Throughout this time EFF and our partner organizations, including the Our Fair Deal coalition, tried to play by the USTR’s rules. We wrote whitepapers and open letters, we held side-events for negotiators, we gave presentations (during the limited window when we were allowed to do so), and we spoke with USTR officials bilaterally. But successive leaks of the TPP have demonstrated that unless you are a big business sector, the USTR simply doesn’t care what you have to say. The latest evidence of this is that it was only when Google finally weighed in on the need for more robust support for fair use in the TPP, that the USTR budged on that issue—having ignored our similar calls for years.
Now, the deal is finally done and the text still won’t be available for another 30 days.
Well enough’s enough. The time for whitepapers and presentations is past. The USTR has failed us, so now it’s time for the public to rise up and take their message about the TPP’s threats to user rights to Congress, which has the ultimate authority to approve or reject the deal for the United States. To be effective we’ll need to deliver that message in terms that are clear, and in-your-face—literally. So, that’s what we’re planning: to display signs and banners about how the TPP threatens digital rights and freedoms around the world, during demonstrations that are to be held in Washington, DC from November 14 to 18, 2015, while trade ministers are attending an APEC meeting in the Philippines.
That’s where we need your help.
We don’t want to just tell Congress what EFF thinks about the TPP. We specifically want them to know what you think. So, we’re crowdsourcing the production of messages that you’d like us to use on the placards that we take to Washington, DC. You can contribute your messages via Twitter by quoting this tweet. (Not sure how to quote a tweet? Click the Retweet icon under the post, then type your message in the “Add a comment” field, then click the Retweet button.)
To get some ideas, you can read through all the materials that we’ve produced on this issue, including:
Our TPP’s Copyright Trap campaign on how the extension of copyright term would steal from the public domain to pad the pockets of big media companies.
The dangerous trade secrets rules that could turn whistleblowers, journalists, and hackers into criminals.
The deal’s DRM circumvention ban that would introduce new barriers to users’ abilities to tinker with their devices and content, even for entirely lawful purposes.
How criminal copyright enforcement rules could shut down fan communities and threaten online archivists.
The risk that Hollywood could use special private “courts” for investors to attack countries that adopt US-style “fair use” rules.
And there’s so much more to be worried about, that we’re sure your biggest problem won’t be finding something to say on a protest banner, but trying to limit it to a few choice words! Feel free to submit as many suggestions as you like.
We’ll sift through your suggestions over the next week and choose the best messages on October 14. We’ll then have our in-staff designer transform them into powerful protest banners and make 50 of them for EFF staff, members, and partners to use on the ground at the protest in DC. We’ll also take photos of the protest and post them to the EFF website where you’ll be able to see your messages in action.