More free trade agreement dramas. Apparently, the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement requires overturning the iiTrial in order to be implemented! Joy!

This tweet was concerning enough as it is, so I dug into the “National Interest Assessment” itself and found the gem on point 17:

Consistent with Australia’s existing obligations in the Australia-US and Australia-Singapore FTAs, and to fully implement its obligations under KAFTA, the Copyright Act 1968 will require amendment in due course to provide a legal incentive for online service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement due to the High Court’s decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd, which found that ISPs are not liable for authorising the infringements of subscribers.

I’ve shot off FOI requests to AGD, DFAT and IP Australia. There’s a JSCOT sitting on Monday, so hopefully someone will grill them on this absolute travesty.

This explains at least partially why Senator Brandis is so interested in implementing a graduated response and Internet censorship regime in Australia. The mess just keeps getting worse. Let’s not forget the Productivity Commission very explicitly stated that IP changes should not be considered in FTAs without proper analysis of the consequences.

If this Government can’t even handle something as straight-forward as a bilateral free trade agreement without it requiring major changes to our Copyright Act, how can we trust a single word they say about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement not requiring changes to our legislation?

We can’t.

Yesterday, DFAT requested a 30 day extension on a freedom of information request that requests access to documents regarding the ALRC’s copyright review in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

I declined, as the request is straight forward, and based on the money they requested I pay, they estimate it will take 9 hours to process.

Today, I received an email from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, informing me they have granted DFAT the 30 day extension:

This post was also published in the Guardian. This is the unedited version.

Only in Australia could the phrase “public briefing” mean that the meeting will be held behind closed doors, where journalists are not welcome.

Only yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) rescinded the invitations of several journalists to attend a public briefing regarding a multilateral trade agreement under negotiation called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The TPP is an extensive agreement that covers typical topics such as goods and services, but also contains chapters on labour laws, intellectual property, the environment and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. This agreement is currently being negotiated completely opaquely between the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. DFAT claims that it will be finished negotiating by the end of the year.

So today, I made a presentation to a class of post-grad law students from UNSW regarding copyright reform and Internet freedom. Was great to have such a receptive audience for a talk that lasted a little over an hour!

I’ve embedded the slideshow below, or click here to open it.

After publishing my last post about AJFTA, I sent the negotiating team some questions regarding the trade agreement, specifically regarding what kind of provisions the IP chapter contained. 11 days later I get another boilerplate response that doesn’t even come to close to answering, let alone acknowledging, my questions.

It’s offensive when a bilateral trade agreement is treated with more secrecy than even the TPP, so I responded reiterating that they are being much more opaque than the “international standards” they continue to cite, and so have all of their colleagues when discussing other treaties with me. I look forward to receiving a response in 3 months.