Why Does Anyone Want A 70-year Copyright Term?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Amendment Bill passed its first reading last week by three votes. Those in favour: National, ACT, United Future, and Phil Goff.

What National, ACT, United Future, and Phil Goff mainly voted to do was increase our copyright term to 70 years after the death of the artist or after it is first made available to the public, depending on who holds the copyright. Why?

These are political parties and people that regularly extol the virtues of competition, free market, fewer rules. Extending the copyright term to far exceed the death of the artist, the deaths of their children, and possibly even the deaths of their grandchildren can’t be justified in terms of allowing artists to enjoy the fruits of their labour. It smacks of protectionism, protectionism of the worst kind. Protecting those who buy copyrights as an investment, not the entrepreneurial artists who do the work and take the risks to produce the goods in the first place.

The same politicians also voted for penalties to be increased to a $150,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment for breaching copyright legislation.

You’ve got to admire the gall of the corporations. They go out of their way to dodge their tax liabilities. Yet they manage to get legislation passed to make justice systems – that they fail to contribute to the running of – enforce laws that so blatantly only protect their corporate ability to make a (tax free?) profit. But you’ve also got to wonder at the gullibility of our politicians who will toss aside everything their parties stand for to make this happen.

We can only hope that in the debate that follows, these politicians will enlighten us as to how they think increasing copyright by another 20 years will remove barriers to trade, or in any way support their holy grail of free trade.

Better still, maybe some of these politicians will realise that it doesn’t. Maybe it will dawn on them that the ‘naïve children’ who oppose the TPP are a bit more grownup and a bit more streetwise than first thought. The TPP is nothing but a way for corporations rather than governments to make the rules. And corporate rules are all about increasing their profit. Not about free trade for everyone else, and certainly not about the good of the people who elect democratic governments for the express purpose of making the rules for their country.

Maybe some of these politicians will have the courage and the conscience to put the common good before corporate greed and vote the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement down the next time it comes before the House.

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