Highlights from TPP Stakeholder Day

On Sunday, September 9, the USTR hosted the third stakeholders day in conjunction with the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The event, occurring during the 14th round of negotiations for the agreement, gave stakeholders representing a wide swath of industries, and advocating a variety of interests, an opportunity to interact directly with TPP negotiators. The event was open to any group who wished to register, and allowed for two types of contact with negotiators:

  • Over 200 stakeholder groups, including the Copyright Alliance and several of its member organizations, organized displays and interacted with delegates one-on-one
  • A slate of 60 stakeholder groups each made 10 minute presentations to negotiators. Although the Alliance did not make a presentation itself, our grassroots artist, musician Sara Petite, who spoke and performed at a Copyright Alliance event during the previous stakeholders day last July, was specially mentioned in a presentation by Mike Castellano of Disney during his discussion about the contributions made by those in the creative fields.

The US is currently a party to 13 separate free trade agreements with 19 different countries. While these free trade agreements address a broad range of trade-related issues, from agriculture to textiles to industrial goods, all contain chapters addressing intellectual property rights. As an organization that advocates for artists, creators and innovators across the copyright spectrum, the Copyright Alliance thus has a stake in trade negotiations, including TPP.

At the direct stakeholders event, the Copyright Alliance spoke to delegates about not only the economic benefits of robust copyright protection, but also the noneconomic benefits. To illustrate the last point, the Alliance highlighted the work of photographer Matt Herron, who documented the civil rights movement in the 1960s through his work, including the pivotal march from Selma to Montgomery. As Herron himself said in an event last year:

I’ve put some effort into making not just single photographs but collections. I have historical collections and copyright allows me to decide how these images will be presented and how these historical moments can be disseminated. If I didn’t own the copyright some of these pictures of Martin Luther King might be used to advertise shoes. As it is I can disseminate these images in ways that add to our national heritage, in educational ways for school children and preserve a piece of history. Copyright allows me to retain this control not so I can keep them to myself but present them to the world in a way that’s coherent.

By paying heed to these noneconomic benefits, copyright ensures that creators are not merely adding content to a marketplace, but adding their voice to the marketplace of ideas. The Alliance also pointed out that — contrary to the perception of free trade agreements only benefitting larger companies and more developed countries — consistent, robust intellectual property protection enables local creative industries to develop and ensures that local creators can access global markets on an even playing field.