Creative Commons Japan
thinkC (Forum for the Copyright Term Extension Problem)
MIAU (Movement for the Internet Active Users)
1 It is predicted that the Noda Administration has determined its intention to participate in the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) negotiation, and it would be one of the biggest agenda for the upcoming general election of Japan (Dec. 16, 2012).
However, the content of TPP remains secret to date, and we are asked to make our decision without having any substantial knowledge of what is discussed in the TPP negotiation.
Let us clarify that the three member organizations of this Forum are neutral regarding TPP as a whole. However, we share a strong concern about its lack of transparency and the intellectual property provisions leaked through an international NGO, KEI, last year (http://keionline.org/sites/default/files/tpp-10feb2011-us-text-ipr-chapter.pdf). If the final version of the treaty will contain many parts of the leaked text and Japan becomes its signatory, then it might have a huge negative impact on the richness of our cultures, as well as information freedom.
Therefore, we jointly call for the transparency of the TPP negotiation, and, unless the process will be made open to the public, request the government to ask the current members to drop the IP chapter from the scope of the TPP as a condition of Japan’s entry into the negotiation.
Japan’s participation in TPP would, without a doubt, impact significantly on the future of Japanese culture, society and economy. We will organize an open forum on this issue, attract signatories for this joint statement, closely coordinate with overseas organizations sharing the similar concerns (e.g. https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp), and survey and release views of up-coming general election candidates on this matter.
2 ILeaked US proposal of the TPP IP chapter has been generating heated international debates, and believed to be one of the hottest conflicts between the current parties. Its major provisions, which would have direct impact on Japan’s current IP statutes, are as follows, according to Kensaku Fukui’s articles (http://internet.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/special/fukui/20111031_487650.html):
i) Ban parallel importation （Art. 4.2）
ii) Extend copyright terms（Art. 4.5）
iii) Escalate protections for digital locks （Art. 5.9）
iv) Expand patent to cover plants (including seeds), animals, & methods for medical treatment （Art. 8.2）
v) Restrict generic drugs （Art. 9.2）
vi) Introduce statutory damages（Art. 12.3(a), 12.4）
vii) Make criminal action possible without official complaint（Art. 15.5(g)）
Taken together, these provisions may be characterized as “strongly restrictive, Americanized IP rules.”
3 Many people may disagree on some of the above provisions. The problem, however, is that such rules – and many other rules of the 21 subject areas of TPP – are discussed through a secret negotiation by a small number of people, and would be fixed for a long period as treaty obligations of member countries.
The international IP rules had historically been negotiated and decided through open discussion. However, as the conflicts between nations and social/industrial sectors have escalated, the United States and some other nations began to seek closed, secret negotiation. Such trend has attracted criticisms both domestically and internationally, as seen in the SOPA/PIPA and ACTA debates.
In Japan, when the copyright term extension was requested by the United States and caused a huge debate in 2006, the government subjected this matter to transparent discussions and, after 2 years of open talks, ultimately concluded not to extend the term. However, this summer saw the legislation of so-called “criminalization of illegal private downloading” done in a way that lacks transparency or discussion. The key provisions were submitted to and went through the National Diet without any prior notice nor meaningful debate. It caused an unprecedented amount of public criticism. The above-mentioned three organizations have participated in such debate and/or criticism.
4 We, in order to protect the richness of our cultures and people’s access to it, hereby call for the transparency of the TPP negotiation and warn its possible negative impact on Japan and the world’s IP regime.