Creative Commons and an international coalition of organizations and individuals has published the Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet. It follows the recent ceremonial signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is an example of a trade agreement that has been negotiated in secret with input only from government and corporate interests. There has been no meaningful participation from civil society organizations and public interest advocates who work to protect consumer and digital rights. The text of the TPP was kept secret from the public for several years; it was finally published in November 2015.
Our declaration calls for increased transparency and inclusion by all stakeholders in the development and negotiations of global trade agreements. It was originally developed at a meeting in Belgium earlier this year.
Any international rulemaking process that affects the online and digital environment should adhere to human rights and good governance obligations to actively disseminate information, promote public participation and provide access to justice in governmental decision-making.
The declaration makes six specific recommendations for countries participating in global trade agreements, including regular releases of draft proposals, plenty of opportunity for public comment, and serious engagement of organizations and experts representing Internet users and consumers.
The TPP’s copyright provisions are quite problematic: they downplay the importance of the public domain and exceptions and limitations to copyright, increase the already-too-long term of protection, and demand harsh infringement penalties. Member nations should reject it. And the public should be able to expect openness and fair representation in these types of negotiations.
You can read the full declaration here.