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WikiLeaks publishes secret draft of Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty

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Trans-Pacific Partnership
Trans-Pacific Partnership

WikiLeaks has published a leaked draft of a secret international trade agreement that could create stricter laws governing digital copyright and freedom of speech. The leaked chapter focuses on intellectual property rights, and is part of a broader agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that has been in the works for several years now between the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and several other countries. Though the draft is being written in secret, it's rumored to be moving toward a fast track through Congress. Some details of the agreement have been leaked in the past, but today's come from a quite recent draft, dated August 30th, 2013 — it's also the only one to detail which countries are in support of which proposals.

The Sydney Morning Herald received an early look at the leaked draft, and notes that it focuses on the United States' federal and corporate interests, while largely ignoring the rights and interests of consumers. "One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view," Matthew Rimmer, an expert in intellectual property law, tells the Herald. "Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft and the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this."

The United States and Japan are also currently in opposition to a proposed chapter of the agreement that would seek to "maintain a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community" when it comes to intellectual property. Knowledge Ecology International reports that the draft would allow more intellectual property to be protected by patents or other rights, and for those rights to be expanded as well. WikiLeaks says that TPP would effectively instate many of the surveillance and law enforcement regulations proposed in the highly controversial SOPA and ACTA laws.

The TPP would also allow pharmaceutical patents to be expanded, reports the Herald. "The Obama administration’s proposals are the worst – the most damaging for health – we have seen in a US trade agreement to date," Peter Maybarduk, director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines program, says in a statement. "And soon the administration is expected to propose additional TPP terms that would lock Americans into high prices for cancer drugs for years to come.”