TPP Stakeholders: Students (Workshop by Sanya Reid Smith)

This article is of interest to students and those concerned about how the TPPA will affect education in Malaysia. The main impact will come from restrictions on intellectual property rights on educational materials and books, therefore impairing access to knowledge.

This series is brought to you by based on a recent NGO briefing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Malaysia by Ms Sanya Reid Smith, an expert on Trade and Investment Rules. She has been monitoring the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) since 2011, and is also the resource expert for Bantah TPPA Malaysia. The entire talk is uploaded on YouTube in a seven part series and can be accessed here;  this article is drawn mainly from Part 3 of the talk.The index of the series is attached at the end of the article.

Video starts at 12:16

TPP adds another 20 years of copyright period

Malaysia is already a member of the World Trade Organization, it already has to give “life of the author plus 50 years” copyright on a textbook. It’s quite long before you can legally photocopy the textbook. The TPP adds another 20 years. This is of course a US demand, the US always requires it in its free trade agreements.

Basically they call it the Mickey Mouse rule: literally, every time Mickey Mouse is coming out of copyright – the movie – the US extends the copyright term, so Disney keeps its copyright and can still make money from selling Mickey Mouse. Literally, it went from 50 to 70, 95, 100, keeps going, every time it comes out of copyright. And then the US is a net IP exporter, remember? They want Malaysia to keep paying royalties on Mickey Mouse, so they make it “life plus 70 years” in the TPP. (Malaysia is a net IP importer, ie it pays other countries more in royalties for movies, books etc than it receives).

Malaysia is impacted more because we do a lot of translations

Of course this is not for your modern scientific textbooks, this is more if you are doing history, or literature. But I think it is specially important for Malaysia, because there’s a lot of translation in Malaysia, from English to Malay, Chinese, Tamil, every time you translate you have to pay royalties, as long as there is copyright. So that’s another 20 years of paying royalties for all those translations.

Libraries and universities in Australia/NZ cannot afford it

When this was proposed in the TPP, it was so unpopular, even the libraries in Australia and New Zealand said ‘we don’t want it’. The universities in Australia when this was first proposed in the Australia-US free trade agreement, said ‘we can’t afford it.’ So if the libraries and universities in Australia and New Zealand cannot afford it, what more in Malaysia? Even when I was studying in Australia, the library could not afford all the general databases we needed, right? And could not afford to subscribe to everything you needed, including the back issues, the archives, we pay more to get that. So if Australia cannot afford, how Malaysia?

It might cost Malaysia up to 300+mil USD

So, even the New Zealand Government said that it would cost New Zealand more than 55 million USD a year to have this longer copyright, by 20 years. So New Zealand got a transition period, longer than Malaysia, before they have to implement that. Now, Malaysia’s population is about 6 times bigger than New Zealand’s, so you say it’s 6 times 55 million USD, 300 million plus USD a year of extra payments because of that copyright term extension, of 20 years. So that’s a clear additional cost.

Index of the Series

This series contains 20 articles on the TPP, and can be read in any order:

Transcriptions are kept chiefly ad verbatim, with some minor edits for readability. The text has also been checked by Ms Smith for accuracy.

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