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Enlarge / President Donald Trump signs an executive order Monday withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office.Saul Loeb/Getty Images reader comments 249 Share this story With the stroke of a pen from President Donald Trump, the United States officially withdrew Monday from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed and controversial 12-nation trade pact dealing with everything from intellectual property to human rights. "Everybody knows what that means, right? We’ve been talking about this for a long time," Trump said as he signed the order and made good on his campaign promise to remove the US from the trade deal. "A great thing for the American worker." During the election campaign, he called the TPP a "disaster." President Barack Obama had praised the pact, but it was put on life support just days after Election Day.

That's when congressional leaders told the White House that it would no longer consider entering the pact with a lame-duck president.

The failing deal was of interest to Ars due to how intellectual property would have been treated.

As we noted, "the TPP exported US copyright law regarding how long a copyright lasts.

For signing nations, the plan would have made copyrights last for the life of the creator plus 70 years after his or her death.

That's basically the same as in the US." The nations remaining in the sputtering pact include Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei.

China has proposed a 16-nation free-trade bloc that includes India.

The Trump administration is expected to begin trade negotiations with each TPP nation separately. The Motion Picture Association of America had hailed the TPP when the 2,000-page text of the pact was released in 2015, after negotiations were carried out in secret. "The TPP reaffirms what we have long understood—that strengthening copyright is integral to America’s creative community and to facilitating legitimate international commerce," Chris Dodd, the MPAA chairman, said at the time.
A handful of protesters rally in Sydney, Australia, in 2014 as government officials and private industry negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord.SumOfUs reader comments 14 Share this story The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed and controversial 12-nation trade pact dealing with everything from intellectual property to human rights, effectively died Friday.

Congressional leaders from both parties told the White House they would no longer consider it with a lame duck president, even one who staunchly backed the plan. Among the reasons the deal was relevant to Ars readers is because of how it treated intellectual property.

The TPP exported US copyright law regarding how long a copyright lasts.

For signing nations, the plan would have made copyrights last for the life of the creator plus 70 years after his or her death.

That's basically the same as in the US. When the 2,000-page text of the deal was released in November last year—after negotiations were done in secret—the Motion Picture Association of America hailed it. "The TPP reaffirms what we have long understood—that strengthening copyright is integral to America’s creative community and to facilitating legitimate international commerce," Chris Dodd, the MPAA chairman, said. At one point last year, many feared the TPP would require signing companies to mandate that Internet service providers terminate accounts for Internet copyright scofflaws.

That, however, never materialized.
In the US, many of the top ISPs have a six-strikes consumer infringement program. Knowledge Ecology International, which monitors international law, said the measure would have gutted provisions in American law encouraging more transparency of patents on biologic drugs.

The group said infringing any patent or copyright could have become more risky and costly. But what a difference a year makes.

Following the victory of Republican Donald Trump, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky, and Sen.

Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, have said they would not bring up the TPP vote given that President Barack Obama is leaving office in January. "In terms of the TPP agreement itself, Leader McConnell has spoken to that, and it’s something that he’s going to work with the president-elect to figure out where they go in terms of trade agreements in the future," Wally Adeyemo, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs told The Wall Street Journal late Friday. The nations in the accord include the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei.

They represent about 40 percent of the global economy.

China has proposed a 16-nation free-trade bloc that includes India.
EnlargeAurich Lawson | Justin Sullivan,Spencer Platt/Getty Images reader comments 21 Share this story Campaign 2016 Clinton, Trump do agree on one thing—the right to use marijuana Why a theoretical physicist wants all state bills to be online before final vote State of the biggest, best union: Trump nightly webcast debuts tonight The next President will take power with significant space decisions looming Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump on science, energy, and the climate View more storiesThe hot-button issues this election can be counted on one's fingers—and for most voters, things like copyright and patent policy don't make the list.

Assigned to a wonkish zone far from the Sunday morning talk shows, intellectual property issues aren't near the heart of our deeply polarized political discourse. Of the two major party candidates in 2016, only the Democratic candidate has a platform that even addresses copyright and patent policies.
So today, let's look at what we know about Hillary Clinton's plan, and make some informed speculation about what could happen to these areas under a Donald Trump presidency. Given that the campaign is focused (as always) on a relatively small group of issues, tech policy watchers who spoke to Ars were surprised to see a presidential platform that mentions IP issues at all.

Clinton's briefing paper on technology and innovation addresses both copyright and patent issues directly, and that in itself is something of a surprise.

Trump's website has no such information, so the best clues to his approach lie in his public statements and the people he has surrounded himself with. Clinton on copyright: The no-SOPA promise Hillary Clinton's intentions with copyright represent something of a snapshot of where the debate stands in 2016.

Copyright policy (and one could say this for patents as well) seems like an area where the nation should be able to overcome its wide partisan gap. Yet, no legislative change of any real significance took place during the Obama Administration. Roughly speaking, two huge sectors of the economy—technology and Hollywood—were sharply at odds about what should be done. That standoff made it easy for an already do-nothing Congress to, well, do nothing. Despite the lack of legislation, there was a big change during the Obama Administration in how US lawmakers viewed copyright. Members of Congress from both parties were deluged with calls and e-mails in 2012 as the citizenry absorbed what the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would mean for the functioning of the Internet.

The draconian proposal included methods for quickly blocking websites deemed piratical, demands that ISPs use "graduated response" to disconnect users accused as pirates, and instructions for search engines to be forcibly rearranged with a list of websites more to the liking of the RIAA and MPAA. At that time, the proposed anti-piracy law seemed destined for passage, with advocates of a more balanced copyright system hoping, at best, to whittle away at some of its worst changes.

But SOPA caused a public outcry unlike anything seen before; an Internet blackout prompted millions of calls and e-mails to Congress. Institutional memory of the anti-SOPA uprising is still strong in Congress, where politicians now approach copyright issues tentatively and reluctantly, speaking about not wanting to get "SOPA'd" on a complex topic. Speaking generally, most of the tech sector, and especially Internet companies, want a more balanced copyright system.

And they certainly don't want any kind of SOPA, or SOPA-lite proposal, whether it comes in the Congressional front door, through courts, or by lobbying state law enforcement. In that climate, Clinton's most important copyright position is her promise of what she won't be doing—and the Democratic candidate explicitly promises she won't be supporting a new version of SOPA.

As her position paper states, Clinton "maintains her opposition to policies that unnecessarily restrict the free flow of data online—such as the high profile fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)." (For reasons that aren't clear, this important sentence is oddly placed in the "net neutrality" section.) Later, Clinton has a paragraph dedicated to her positions on copyright.
It isn't too long, so it's worth considering in whole, jargon and all: Effective Copyright Policy: Copyrights encourage creativity and incentivize innovators to invest knowledge, time, and money into the generation of myriad forms of content. However, the copyright system has languished for many decades, and is in need of administrative reform to maximize its benefits in the digital age. Hillary believes the federal government should modernize the copyright system by unlocking—and facilitating access to—orphan works that languished unutilized, benefiting neither their creators nor the public.
She will also promote open-licensing arrangements for copyrighted material and data supported by federal grant funding, including in education, science, and other fields.
She will seek to develop technological infrastructure to support digitization, search, and repositories of such content, to facilitate its discoverability and use.

And she will encourage stakeholders to work together on creative solutions that remove barriers to the seamless and efficient licensing of content in the U.S. and abroad. Reading between the lines, what should the interested parties make of this? "There's flowery language, and it's hard to tell what it really means, but its heart is in the right place," said Joshua Lamel, who represents tech companies in Washington as VP of BGR Group, and serves as executive director of Re:Create, a group that pushes for more balanced copyright. "I don't know anyone in the Internet world who didn't like that paper." The most important Internet copyright law is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was created and passed under Bill Clinton's tenure as president. "If you see the Internet as a success story, part of that is how [Bill] Clinton approached it in the 90s," Lamel told Ars.

There are problems with the DMCA and things that could be made better, but on the whole, the DMCA has done more good than harm. Of course, Hillary Clinton isn't her husband.

But her own record at the State Department, in Lamel's view, looks pretty good. Internet freedom was a major issue while Clinton ran State given the Arab Spring and related turmoil broke out on her watch.

The department voiced concern over Internet access and free speech during those events. The Clinton policy paper even cites a few points that are on the "wish list" of tech activists, like dealing with the mess around "orphan works," older copyrighted works where the owners can't be found, and ensuring open access to more federally funded content. While Clinton surprised some by citing a problem like orphan works, her platform is vague or silent on issues that are arguably more pressing. One burning issue for copyright reformers that she has no public position on is the deformed DMCA "exemption" process, in which people who want to bypass digital locks for non-piratical purposes have to ask permission from the Librarian of Congress every three years.

That's hamstrung companies, tinkerers, and activists who want to use copyrighted content for purposes that seem obviously good for society—whether it's ripping a DVD for educational slides or a documentary, or letting drivers tinker with their car software. In the view of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that exemption process, detailed in Section 1201 of the DMCA, is "fundamentally flawed." Seeing no progress on a legislative solution, EFF filed a lawsuit in July challenging Section 1201 as unconstitutional.
Is reform of this critical area something that could get Clinton's support? The platform leaves us few clues. Finally, while Clinton was clear about speaking up for Internet access rights in other countries, she's been more heavy-handed when US national security is at issue.
Internet privacy isn't the focus of this article, but Clinton's public statements suggest that she will be at least as supportive of massive Internet surveillance as Obama was, if not more. When asked about Edward Snowden in the debates, she followed Obama's line—that he should come back to the US and face a trial, full stop.
It was her primary opponents, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, who showed more sympathy towards Snowden. Other matters on the wish-list of copyright reformers, such as reforming the massive statutory damages available to copyright owners, are likely to face further stalemate in Congress regardless of who is president. "Statutory damages are in desperate need of change, and the damage to innovation is really high," says Ernesto Falcon, an EFF attorney who focuses on IP issues. "VC's look at litigation risk, and it's copyright is super-risky because of six-figure artificial damages.

But it's hard to get Congress to have the courage to take it up." Guessing at a Trump copyright policy What would we see under a President Trump? The answer is almost entirely speculative for now.
In October, the Trump transition team had a meeting related to tech policy.
Second-hand reports indicate that entertainment industry lobbyists had a vocal presence at that meeting, but Trump's team didn't talk much. As with some other policy areas, we're left guessing at what Trump's position might be like based public statements, his personal history, and the advisers he's surrounded himself with. Here's one unusual reason Trump could actually defend balanced copyright: the "alt-right," the most controversial segment of his supporters, rely on it.

The alt-right grew up the most freewheeling parts of the Internet, like reddit and 4chan.

And while the Trump phenomenon thrived from mainstream media's attention, he's also attacked the media and used the Internet (Twitter particularly) to speak directly to supporters.
Some of the more fringe media figures involved in Trump's campaign, like Roger Stone and Alex Jones, wouldn't really have careers without the Internet. Their followers may have been part of the hundreds of thousands of callers to Congress demanding that they stand down before implementing SOPA.
So, the far right could be advocates for Internet freedom. Another space where Trump shares some territory with copyright reformers is in his staunch opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But while tech-sector opposition to TPP centered around copyright policies that some view as draconian, Trump's opposition has always had a traditional, anti-free-trade tone.
It suggests he simply believes TPP represents a bad deal for American workers. Putting aside those coincidental overlaps with reformers, there are a lot of reasons to think a President Trump would be a problem for tech in general and the Internet in particular. He's been happy to talk about "closing" the Internet in the name of fighting ISIS, has suggested boycotting Apple, and has been criticizing Amazon and Jeff Bezos for months, largely because of Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post. First of all, unlike traditional Republicans who often philosophically run "against Hollywood," Trump is in many ways a creature of Hollywood.

That means he's likely spent a time surrounded by folks with a more maximalist view of copyright. Former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, for one, is a trusted adviser. Copyright claims have been used, increasingly, as a kind of SLAPP lawsuit to squelch speech.
If anything, Trump has pushed back against free speech and press rights, suggesting he'd like to "open up" libel laws and make it easier to sue news outlets.

Trump regularly threatens libel lawsuits against his critics. While that isn't directly a copyright issue, it does not give reformers much hope. There are two well-known third-party candidates in the race, as well. Libertarian Gary Johnson told Ars in a 2011 interview that his "verdict is out on copyright laws," since they "protect yours and my thoughts, should they be original."  While he said internet freedom was a top priority for him, he As to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, meanwhile, copyrights and patents don't have a place in her platform. A third shot at patent reform? The anti-SOPA revolt notwithstanding, neither Congress nor any potential president has much interest in altering the stalemated copyright landscape, which is likely to upset either the tech or the entertainment sector. In theory, the situation with patents should be different.
In both 2013 and 2015, Congress debated and voted on different types of reforms to a patent litigation system that's widely seen as abused. Bills that would increase transparency, limit venue gamesmanship, protect end-users, and increase fee-shifting were introduced, amended, and found strong support in both parties. In the end, though, neither passed.

The Innovation Act of 2013 passed the House, but it died without a vote in the Senate.

A similar bill in 2015 was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it got no further despite the Senate's passing from Democratic to Republican control.

Both bills had broad support from the Obama Administration, but neither could win the support of key sectors, including pharmaceuticals, lawyers' groups, and universities. Clinton's platform calls for "additional targeted rule changes" to patent litigation that mirror what Obama supported, and it offers a big chunk of what the tech sector is asking for.
Specifically, Clinton "supports laws to curb forum shopping and ensure that patent litigants have a nexus to the venue in which they are suing; require that specific allegations be made in demand letters and pleadings; and increase transparency in ownership by making patent litigants disclose the real party in interest." She also praises Obama's "efforts to rein in frivolous suits by patent trolls," like the president's creation of a Patent Trial and Appeals Board.

That entity oversees inter partes reviews (IPRs) that allow accused companies to challenge patents at the Patent Office in a way that's far cheaper than court. "That language is comfortable to me, as a pro-reform kind of guy," said a longtime pro-reform tech advocate who didn't want to be named because of ongoing negotiations in DC. "It makes me think her platform is trolls are bad, IPR's are good, the America Invents Act was a good thing, and that we should have venue reform." It's a continuation of the Obama policy, and during a heated campaign, that's about as much as reformers could hope for. It all looks good on paper—but there's a big "but." Some of the advisers Clinton has tapped give reformers pause.

A Politico report on Clinton's team notes that her working group on regulations includes the general counsel of InterDigital, a patent licensing firm that's in the same group as Qualcomm.
InterDigital was a staunch opponent of the 2013 and 2015 patent bills. Another high-profile IP strategist in Clinton's working group is Q.

Todd Dickinson, a former director of the US Patent and Trademark Office under Bill Clinton.

Dickinson praised Clinton's "drill down" on tech and innovation as "maybe unprecedented," but he isn't a personality that pro-reform groups love being close to Clinton.

During debates over the 2013 patent bill, Dickinson was the head of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), an IP lawyers' group that often told Congress concerns about patent trolls were overblown. So where's Trump in all this? Again, it's guesswork. "There's just nobody working on these issues for Trump," Dickinson told Politico in August. Patent policy might be an area that Trump doesn't care much about.

Taking a look at Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana whom Trump chose as his running mate, may be more instructive. As the former leader of House conservatives, Pence is close to the right wing of the party, and he has a reputation for being someone who's skilled at negotiating with hardline groups like the Freedom Caucus. That could be useful to a President Trump, but nothing suggests Pence would be a friend of patent reform. While GOP House members voted 195-27 in favor of the first patent reform bill, most of the 27 "no" votes came from hardline conservatives, many of who identified as members of the Freedom Caucus. Pence is also a legislative rock-star to the American Conservative Union, another group that opposed patent reform from the right. Tech policy might be a proving ground as to whether a new Congress can work together in 2017.
If Clinton wins the presidency, all signs point to her facing at least one house of Congress controlled by Republicans. Will Congress support her on at least a few matters where majorities of both parties agree—like patent reform? Or, will Congress stay mired in a state of hyper-partisan inaction? Tech policy will be a kind of proving ground.