As free software users, we need to speak out against the TPP
Lobbyists and officials from twelve countries, including the US, are currently bickering over the details of this massive international "free trade" treaty. They are creating the TPP to strongly promote Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and enforce draconian copyright law, which will hinder free software development.
Similar to 2012's SOPA and PIPA, TPP would likely entrench the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) measures that make it a crime to circumvent DRM, even when circumvention is done for non-commercial purposes. It would also export this criminalization to other countries with less onerous DRM policies. But that's not all: it would restrict fair use, lengthen copyright terms, and regulate the temporary copies of media that computers make, in a way that our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have called "out of touch with the realities of the modern computer." All of these restrictions would make it much harder for free software applications to interface with media and the Internet, chilling free software development and use.
Facing opposition, President Obama is attempting to bypass the US's standard approval process for treaties and unilaterally ram through the TPP, in a process known as a "fast track." Today (Wednesday, January 29th), the FSF is joining the diverse StopFastTrack coalition in urging our US supporters to simultaneously take action against this.
Not reading this until after January 29th? We encourage you to call in anyway, sustained pressure is just as important as raising a big uproar all at once.
If you can't vote in the United States, we encourage you to stand up against TPP wherever you are. If you live in one of the other participating countries, you can do this by contacting your elected officials. Canadians can get started at Gutenberg.ca. Please email us at email@example.com if you know of any actions in your country, so that we can help promote them.
Because it's widely known as the TPP, (and because of its generally low moral worth) some have referred the agreement as the "Toilet Paper Protocol." We think this is apt. But with toilet paper, the labels at least allow you some degree of information about what you're getting. TPP, however, is being negotiated almost entirely behind closed doors, in chambers populated by lobbyists and government officials, but empty of journalists. Most of the information we have about this utterly undemocratic deal comes from leaked documents.
TPP focuses on more than just copyright and DRM -- it is a giant mess of things that lobbyists couldn't get passed through more democratic channels. That's part of the reason that people from so many different groups and walks of life are coming together to oppose it.
Of the groups speaking out against TPP, we are proud to be one of the few that is putting free software first in our argument against the partnership. If you can vote in the US, please call in and say that you oppose TPP because it would promote DRM and harm the development of free software. Let's make sure that congress knows our movement has something to say in this fight.
This isn't the first time the FSF has stood up against proposed laws and trade agreements that would hurt free software -- we played a role in the fight against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as well as SOPA/PIPA, and we sent a licensing expert to Australia to advocate for free software at an earlier TPP negotiation session. But we'd like to be doing even more to bring your voice to the debate. To give us the tools we need, we've set an ambitious fundraising goal of $450,000 by this Friday, and we're almost there. Can you chip in $25 to help us expand our work in 2014? Thanks for your support.
Image CC-BY Electronic Frontier Foundation.