Internet providers and their customers will be subject to DMCA-style takedowns and possible criminal penalties under the recently agreed Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, a leaked final chapter of intellectual property regulations reveals.
The chapter [pdf] was published by Julian Assange's Wikileaks website.
It suggests several new criminal penalties will be introduced in TPP countries for infringing copyright, including penalties for wilful infringement even when there is no financial gain, but "substantial prejudicial impact on rights holders" of copyrighted works.
Criminal - and civil - penalties could also be applied to those who strip out information for rights management such as watermarks in digital images, the TPP chapter indicates.
While TPP signatories are able to introduce exemptions around Technological Protection Measures - TPM, in the context of Digital Rights Management or DRM - and allow for parallel importation and breaking DVD region encoding breaking, these provisions do not extend to geoblocking of streaming content services.
Exemptions for circumventing TPM and DRM will, however, depend on what rights holders have done prior to make material fairly available to consumers, with authorities in TPP countries having to take such systems into account.
Devices used for creating infringing copies can be confiscated and destroyed by authorities, the TPP says.
It has already been revealed that TPP signatories will agree to extend copyright terms to life of the creator plus 70 years, largely thanks to US-based rights holder lobbying.
There will also be no exemption for so-called orphan works, where the original creator or rights holder of copyrighted material cannot be found, and which would be released into the public domain as a result. Instead, orphaned works will remain copyrighted for the life plus 70 years period.
Domain name 'cybersquatting' is dealt with too. Registrars must ensure that the "whois" contact data of individuals who register domains is accurate, and TPP countries must set up a process based on ICANN's uniform domain name dispute resolution policy (UDRP) to resolve disagreements.
Internet service providers get their own section in the IP chapter of the TPP, which places its emphasis on "providing enforcement procedures that permit effective action by rights holders against copyright [and related rights] infringement".
Section I lays out the obligation on internet providers to "expeditiously remove or disable access to material residing on their networks or systems" upon notice from rights holders or their agents of alleged infringements.
The notice and removal system is similar to the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) law that allows rights holders to send out automated notices of copyright infringement to providers, asking them to remove content.
Cached copies of copyrighted material are exempted however, and the TPP mandates "monetary remedies" against anyone who knowingly makes "material misrepresentations in a notice" that providers rely on.
TPP countries can also, if they desire, set up an official body featuring representatives from providers and rights holders to assess the validity of infringement notices.
A group of 12 countries including Australia have agreed to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, which will now undergo ratification and domestic legislative procedures in the signatory nations.