The fair deal coalition

May 22nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

has joined 31 consumer and lobby groups from New Zealand and overseas in writing to Trade Minister Tim Groser to voice concerns about the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

The company is a member of the New Zealand-born umbrella group the Fair Deal Coalition, which was set up last year during the Auckland round of the negotiations to lobby against possible provisions in the yet-to-be-completed trade agreement.

The coalition fears the trade agreement could unduly strengthen intellectual property rights, for example by extending by 20 years and introducing new controls on parallel imports. …

In its letter, the coalition asked Groser to reflect on the “variety of sectors” that stood to be adversely affected by such provisions. “As a group we are diverse, but we share one thing in common: we seek appropriately balanced intellectual property laws,” it said.

Trade Me spokesman Paul Ford said the firm backed the coalition because it was concerned the agreement could “result in a crappy deal for both Kiwi consumers and a decent chunk of the Trade Me community”.

“We reckon is pretty important to New Zealanders as it means Kiwi sellers can source goods direct from licensed suppliers around the globe, so buyers get more choice and, with any luck, better prices too,” he said.

The Fair Deal Coalition has attracted support from advocates in six of the 12 countries which are party to the trade negotiations, including the United States, Canada and Australia.

The group’s founders include Consumer NZ, InternetNZ, the Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind and the Telecommunications Users Association.

I’m one of those involved in the Fair Deal coalition, and it is great to see it gain supporters in the major countries involved in the .

I’m all for free trade deals, but that doesn’t mean I want a deal at any price, and I think the proposed US chapter on intellectual property is not balanced or a fair deal. I think the current NZ intellectual property laws are relatively well balanced and we should not agree to anything that would force a change to them. If enough countries stand firm on these issues, I am hopeful the US will modify its position. And to be fair to the US, they have already moved a considerable way by agreeing to writing exceptions to copyright restrictions into the text – a first for a free trade deal with them. But the current proposed wording is still not suitable.

Consumer NZ spokesman Hadyn Green said his group believed the trade deal’s documents had provisions “which may remove parallel importing in New Zealand”. That would mean retailers could no longer import copyright goods, from software to branded clothes, without the permission of the manufacturer, which Consumer NZ feared would push up prices for many products.

Bans on parallel importing work against free trade, and should not be in FTA.

A Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokeswoman said last week that the parallel importing of copyright works had been raised in negotiations but there was no consensus among the negotiating parties on whether an agreement “should include specific provisions on this issue”.

Which hopefully means it won’t include such a provision.

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12 Responses to “The fair deal coalition”

  1. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    Trust Tim Grosser to send us up shit creek without a paddle.

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  2. nocommentkiwi (35 comments) says:

    Good stuff DPF, can you get us a fair deal re Pharmac too?

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  3. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    At the end of the day I think Tim Grosser will negotiate the best deal to reflect NZ values. Any move towards hindering the ability to parallel import goods will go against that, and I don’t think it will happen.

    As far as strengthening copyright laws and intellectual property rights, I think this is good. NZ is far behind the 8 ball in these areas to the point that some major international companies/brands do not make their digital products available in NZ. This is bad for us! I think NZ and Finland a the only countries where many itunes products are restricted because of our lax laws in this area.

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  4. dime (10,100 comments) says:

    “Bans on parallel importing work against free trade, and should not be in FTA.” – agree! speaking as an importer who has never parallel imported anything. it would mean more money for importers but we have already adapted.

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  5. oob (191 comments) says:

    I am a lifelong National supporter but this is a deal breaker for me.

    If National acquiesce to draconian American intellectual property rights enforcement, I will do everything I can to ensure that National are never elected to office again.

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  6. Ed Snack (1,926 comments) says:

    Interesting, I know the USA extended copyright etc, in part I thought to protect Disney’s rights to Mickey Mouse which dates back a long time. In NZ, have those rights expired, that is could one legally reproduce those images even if they could not be exported ?

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  7. wat dabney (3,805 comments) says:

    Bans on parallel importing work against free trade

    They are two separate things. Parallel imports should be illegal simply on the basis that they contravene producers’ conditions of sale.

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  8. wreck1080 (3,956 comments) says:

    The tpp has become a monster.

    Boot out the USA. Get back on track.

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  9. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    Sack whisky-lips Groser and spend the savings from his minibar account on health and education. The perfect solution, a win-win for all New Zealanders.

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  10. simonway (387 comments) says:

    NZ is far behind the 8 ball in these areas

    What makes a life + 70 years term so much better than a life + 50 years term? A person can reap the income from their work all through their life, and after their death the person who owns the copyright gets another 50 years worth of income.

    I certainly don’t think there are a great deal of writers and musicians and programmers who would be motivated to produce more output by that extra 20 years at the margin, and that to me is the most important benefit of copyright.

    As for your point about “major international companies”, I think it’s a bit ridiculous. If all the media corporations have to do is get one country to extend its copyright term in order to get all the other countries to follow suit (because they’re afraid that media investment will flee), then you might as well just make copyright an infinite term, and why not make it retroactive as well – re-add copyright to Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, and Beowulf.

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  11. Bazar (37 comments) says:

    “They are two separate things. Parallel imports should be illegal simply on the basis that they contravene producers’ conditions of sale.”

    The seller sold their good, it no longer belongs to them. It is not their right to dictate to whom and what is done with their goods once it has been sold.

    Take a look at the right of first sale: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine

    There is also the reality of the matter, that NZ is a small and distant island, with a small population, in a global world.
    It could easily become standard practice for large companies to apply a “Australasia Tax” because they could, and we couldn’t do anything but pay to keep up with the rest of the world.

    You only need to look at australian software market to see it in effect. Just one example of many would be that Adobe sells their software products at extremely high prices in Australia, so much so that its a known joke that its cheaper to fly first class to the US to buy the software there, then buy locally.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_import#Australia
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/22/microsoft_adobe_price_gouging_inquiry/

    The point i’m making is that NZ already has enough trouble with unfair but legally valid international trade practices. The fact is we can’t afford to make it easier for other international companies to rip us off.

    Don’t even get me started on extending copyright.
    I’d love someone to explain to me on what moral or social reasons, that the 1928 film “Steamboat willie” is still under copyright protection for another 15 years. Because clearly without the protection it has now, it wouldn’t of been created…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboat_Willie#Copyright_status

    I’d hope for a favourable outcome to the TPP, but not at any cost. At a certain point its worth walking away. And i expect we may already be near that line already.

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  12. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Wreck
    It was Kevin Rudd who got the US involved.

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