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Only yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) rescinded the invitations of several journalists to attend a public briefing regarding a multilateral trade agreement under negotiation called the Trans-Pacific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

After reports that Disney was pressing for a copyright term extension at the recent stakeholder briefing in Singapore for the TPP, I emailed DFAT in order to get their position on this matter.

In their response, they claim that they will not support provisions that would extend copyright terms in Australia, but would support clauses that serve to reinforce Australia’s current position on copyright term.

While it’s great that DFAT claim they aren’t intending to support an extension of copyright term at this time, I’m disappointed—but not surprised—that they would choose to vertically integrate the current copyright term in yet another treaty.

I have emailed DFAT’s TPP enquiries email address regarding the statements going around on Twitter that Disney is asking for yet another copyright term extension. Just a little bit of deja vu.

The content of the email can be found below. I will update this as soon as I get a response.

Summary

As this is going to be a pretty long blog post, I thought I’d summarise it up front:

  • National Classification Database and Refused Classification Reports:
    • Phase 1 (database) received. Phase 2: heavily redacted under dubious legal provisions
  • Documents relating to data retention proposals:
    • Missed deadline, skipped internal review, requested extension from OAIC, missed deadline from OAIC, still waiting on outcome.
  • Intellectual property legislation changes as a result of trade agreements/treaties:
    • Waited 60 days to be told that there are no documents relating to TPP, MAFTA or AJFTA, and they won’t give me the documents for ACTA. Rejected.
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement:
    • They won’t give me the text, and they still haven’t helped me define scope after more than a month.

A summary of the summary: freedom of information in Australia seems pretty broken.

Any documents regarding each item are attached at the bottom of the section for that item.