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Digital democracy: Fair Deal goes global

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, May 21st, 2013 - 1 comment
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Yesterday NZ’s Fair Deal Coalition launched a new website, ourfairdeal.org, aimed at networking globally with others concerned about the secretive negotiation of intellectual property matters in the TTPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement).  This includes a range of significant organisations with diverse, and possibly conflicting, interests.

The banner at the top of the website main page says:

The Fair Deal campaign is about keeping the Trans-Pacific Partnership from changing our copyright laws.

A fair deal is one that opens up new trade opportunities, without forcing us to make changes to copyright law that would take a major toll on our society.

Further down the page is this explanation:

Changing our copyright laws in ways that restrict the open Internet and economic opportunity are unfair to citizens, businesses, creators, and civil society organizations. Not only could such changes raise prices for users of copyright works, but they could also stifle our knowledge economy and chill innovation.

Yesterday’s press release from the Fair Deal Coailiton includes statements from “Fair Deal spokesperson and InternetNZ Policy Lead Susan Chalmers“:

“The now-expanded Fair Deal Coalition is aiming to create an informed, highly-visible, global conversation on copyright in the TPP,” she says.

Since being formed in New Zealand in July 2012, the Fair Deal Coalition has given voice to the concerns of a growing number of people and organisations – including librarians, IT companies, open source societies, telecommunications users, the Internet community, digital rights activists, people who are blind or have low vision, artists, consumers, schools and universities. It is aiming to garner the support of 54 supporting organisations in six countries.

Chalmers says it is testament to the sanity of the Fair Deal cause that so many global organisations have come on board and are willing to seed the ‘Fair Deal’ message to their constituencies.

Maira Sutton at the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, has posted about the EFF joining the Fair Deal Coalition:

Today EFF joins organizations from the around the world representing a diversity of interests in launching a new coalition to ask for A Fair Deal on intellectual property (IP) in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The coalition has launched a website at www.OurFairDeal.org calling for TPP negotiators to “reject copyright proposals that restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.” The TPP meetings are taking place in Lima, Peru this week until May 25th, and EFF has been on the ground working with groups to fight those provisions and demand a seat at the table at these secretive negotiations.

Sutton itemises some key points that the coalition wants the TPP negotiators to consider adopting a new approach that:

  • Promotes access to knowledge, innovation, and weightless economies,

  • Respects fundamental rights like due process, privacy, and free speech, and

  • Recognizes the realities and full opportunities of the Internet.

Sutton quotes Steve Anderson at openmedia.org:

Unrestricted access to the open internet is fundamental to participation in 21st century society. Trade agreements must not require termination of Internet access for infringement of copyright or encourage ISPs to police Internet use.

… and others supporting the Fair Deal Coalition: Ellen Broad at the Australian Digital Alliance, Jeremy Malcolm at Consumers International,and  Claudio Ruiz at  ONG Derechos Digitales.

Sutton ends her post listing founder members of the Fair Deal Coalition:

Affinity Bridge, Australian Digital Alliance, Australian Library  & Information Association, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Internet NZ, BCFIPA, The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), Consumers International, Council of Canadians, Creative Freedom, Demand Progress, Derechos Digitales, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), Fight for the Future, Gen Why Media, Hiperderecho, Library & Information Society of New Zealand, NZRise, NZOSS, OpenMedia.org, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, Scoop, Tech Liberty NZ, TechDirt, Tuanz, TradeMe.

It’s an interesting bunch because it includes both public sector, community, independent and commercial entities.

Yesterday on Stuff, Tom Pullar-Strecker reported on the international traction that has been achieved by the Fair Deal Coalition:

The Fair Deal Coalition said it had gathered 15,000 signatories in less than a week for an online petition that called on decision-makers to “reject copyright proposals that restrict the open internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights”.

Pullar-Strecker reports on the EFF activities at the current Lima round of the TPP, and on the lack of clarity over whether the TPP would end the NZ practice of “parallel importing”.  This enables the retailers to cheaply import copyrighted material “,

 without the permission of the manufacturer …

A Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokeswoman said last week that the parallel importing of copyright works had been raised in TPP negotiations but there was “no consensus amongst the TPP negotiating parties on whether an agreement should include specific provisions on this issue”.

The Fair Deal Coalition is a curious mixture of those supporting “neoliberal” global free market trading, and others supporting fundamental democratic freedom and privacy rights.  The latter is associated with concerns about the GCSB spying on NZ citizens in support of international corporates.

This presents a bit of a dilemma: such umbrella coalitions are able to get more attention from the MSM and the public, raising awareness of the issues.  However, there is always the danger that the inclusion of commercial interests will over-ride the more crucial and fundamental issues of democratic freedoms and privacy rights.

One comment on “Digital democracy: Fair Deal goes global”

  1. xtasy 1

    So much to digest, and this is too much for me to do this late at night now. Thanks for the effort of putting this into the forum, Karol.

    I have some thinking to do on this topic and the implications, also re copyright matters.

    What worries me is exactly what you stated in the last two chapters.

    And I noticed, David Farrar is supporting this organisation, and anything he supports, that needs further, careful scrutiny and must at first sight be treated with great caution and perhaps apprehension.

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