Senior copyright industry experts described the Trans Pacific Partnership and other recent free trade agreements as likely setting a “high water mark” for intellectual property commitments in trade agreements. The statements came as part of a symposium last week on Trading in IP: Copyright Treaties and International Trade Agreements sponsored by Columbia Law School’s Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts.
Steve Metalitz, Partner at Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP and long-time Counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, kicked off the discussion of whether we have met the “high water mark” in copyright in trade agreements in a provocative introductory key note presentation to the symposium. “Past [Free Trade Agreements] were perhaps too specific and prescriptive” on many copyright issues to be broadly acceptable by other countries as a true international standard, he opined. He specifically mentioned as problematic the complexity of ISP liability and technological protection measures standards included in trade agreements negotiated in the mid to late 2000s through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement concluded last year.
One of the subjects discussed at the conference included the indications that an E-Commerce agenda may be negotiated in the World Trade Organization. Metalitz described the copyright industries as being in the early stages of developing their positions on such a negotiation. He indicated that the industries would push for the issue of combating digital piracy to be at the forefront of the discussions. It was left unclear whether the industries might push for substantive copyright rules, enforcement measures, or both in the discussions. Others involved in E-Commerce debates have predicted that some countries and industries would press to exclude IP standards and enforcement measures from the scope of the negotiation at the WTO. Where the US might stand on such issues has not been defined publicly.
The Symposium was recorded and will be available at a future date for on demand viewing, according to the Kernochan Center’s website. The on demand version was not available at the time of writing.