Rights holder lobbyists have asked US trade officials to persuade Australia and New Zealand to ratchet up intellectual property (IP) enforcement via the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), according to a leaked document.
A letter leaked in December 2010, shortly after the most recent round of TPP talks, revealed that US movie industry lobbyists want TPP participants to introduce statutory penalties for IP infringement, draft new laws regarding ISP liability, reduce the threshold to commercial scale infringement and target torrent search engines.
TPP participants include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, U.S, and Vietnam.
The letter was penned by the 'US Business Coalition' - which includes among its members the Motion Picture Association of America, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America, and the US Chamber of Commerce.
Rashmi Rangnath, a staff attorney with Public Knowledge, has criticised the lobby group for drafting a document which goes well beyond provisions gained in the recent Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The lobby group argued that statutory penalties would provide clear guidance for enforcement in TPP nations. Rangnath warned conversely that were other nations to mimic the US system, their citizens could expect multi-million dollar damage claims over minor breaches.
The lobby group also hoped TPP participants would prosecute torrent search engines similar to The Pirate Bay on the basis that they “induce” infringements.
“TPP parties should agree to make internet piracy a law enforcement priority and agree to prosecute not only direct infringers, but also those who purposefully take steps to promote infringement and ‘profit from developing and maintaining services that effectively induce it’,” the US Business Coalition argued.
It also wished to shift the emphasis, when considering “commercial scale” infringement, away from questions over the infringer’s profit motive to the “harm to the infringed party”.
The lobby group called on TPP signatory nations to provide ISPs “guidelines on liability and applicable limitations”.
“Such provisions provide legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with right holders in deterring piracy,” the Business Coalition explained.
But Rangnath contended that this equated to ISPs being asked "to act as copyright cops and treating individual infringers with the same severity as large-scale pirates."