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USTR Cites Progress on Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement USTR Cites Progress on Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement

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Tech

USTR Cites Progress on Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement

July 10, 2012

U.S. Trade officials said Tuesday that they are making progress on completing a trade agreement with a group of Asia-Pacific countries including beginning discussion on a U.S. proposal to provide some exceptions to the protection of intellectual property.

The latest round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement wrapped up Tuesday in San Diego. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that the 14th round of talks will again be hosted by the United States in September in Leesburg, Va., which is just outside Washington, D.C.

During the latest round of talks, the United States proposed new language that would require the signatories to the agreement to "achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research," according to a USTR statement.

USTR spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said the proposal is being considered by the other negotiating countries and no final decision was made on the issue. Some public interest groups, Internet advocates and lawmakers have voiced concern that the copyright protections included in the TPP could impose new limits on Internet users.

Although they are pleased that U.S. officials are offering some limits on IP protections, some groups that have been critical of the TPP process say they are withholding judgment until they see the actual language, which USTR did not release.

"While the inclusion of provisions on limitations and exceptions is a positive development, it does not address the adverse impacts that several TPP provisions would have on user rights. For instance, the TPP's proposals to increase stringent enforcement mechanisms and include unbalanced provisions on technological protection measures continue to threaten user interests," Rashmi Rangnath with Public Knowledge wrote in a blog post last week.

Another issue that tech companies will be watching is for language related to data storage. White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy Danny Weitzner said the United States would be pushing the TPP negotiating countries to avoid requirements that foreign firms store data locally if they want to do business, even over the Internet, in those countries.

"If countries start saying the only way you can sell a service to our citizens is to store the data in our country, immediately all the economies of scale we get from the Internet and cloud computing and a lot of the competitive advantages that the U.S. companies have would disappear," Weitzner said Tuesday during a discussion in U.S. Internet policy sponsored by the Hudson Institute.

"If you have to build facilities in every single country, if you have to store data in every single country in which they provide service, we think that it's really the end of the global Internet marketplace...So we have proposed to our TPP negotiating partners that there should be a commitment to avoid local data storage requirements."

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