By John Eggerton
The U.S. has struck a new North American Free Trade Agreement, actually at the moment it is a U.S. Mexico Trade Agreement, but its apparent extension of copyright protections has some fair use fans crying foul and pointing fingers at the entertainment industry.
The former NAFTA agreement covered, broadly, somewhere in excess of a trillion dollars in trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico, but President Trump said it was a bad deal and needed to be renegotiated.
Canada has yet to join the agreement (the White House says if it winds up only being bilateral, so be it), which replaces the NAFTA agreement that the White House had said was a bad deal. "We hope that Canada can join in now, and expect them to begin that process very soon," said U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Bob Lighthizer in a White House call with reporters.
"I think it's going to set the rules for the future of intellectual property and digital trade, he added.
"At present, Public Knowledge understands that the agreement would require a minimum copyright term amounting to the life of the author plus 75 years," said the fair use group. "If enacted, this would effectively extend the copyright terms in existing U.S. law."
“The inclusion of a copyright term extension in the trade agreement announced today is a staggeringly brazen attempt by the entertainment industries to launder unpopular policies through international agreements," said Public Knowledge global policy director Gus Rossi. “So far, the IP chapter of this new agreement appears heavily slanted in favor of big corporate rightsholders," he said.
The Institute for Policy Innovation has said it is "critical" that "any revision of NAFTA includes strong, updated protections for IP goods and services."
While Canada is not part of the tentative agreement, the White House says it is welcome to join and make it a threesome, though signaled if not it would be a bilateral agreement that Canada can then join, or not.