My series of posts on the leak of the Trans Pacific Partnership intellectual property chapter continues with a look at the term of copyright (earlier posts highlighted Canada’s opposition to many U.S. proposals, U.S. demands for Internet provider liability that could lead to subscriber termination, content blocking, and ISP monitoring, the anti-counterfeiting provisions that are inconsistent with Bill C-8, as well as the potential conflict with CETA on geographical indications). This post focuses on one of the least surprising aspects of the TPP: the demand that countries extend their term of copyright beyond international requirements to life of the author plus 70 years. The Berne Convention requirement is life of the author plus 50 years.
Article QQ.G.6 contains a provision requiring a term of at least life plus 70 years. There is support for the provision from the U.S., Australia, Peru, Singapore, and Chile. Mexico would like to extend to life of the author plus 100 years. Canada is opposed to the provision, joined by Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei.
The extension in the term of copyright would mean no new works would enter the public domain in Canada until at least 2034 (assuming an agreement takes effect in 2014). â€¨Many important authors would be immediately affected since their works are scheduled to enter the public domain in the 2014 – 2034 period. These include Canadians such as Marshall McLuhan, Gabrielle Roy, Donald Creighton, and Glenn Gould as well as non-Canadians such as Robert Frost, CS Lewis, TS Eliot, John Steinbeck, JRR Tolkein, and Ayn Rand. Given the potential to make those works more readily accessible to new generations once they enter the public domain, extending the term of copyright as potentially required by the TPP would have a dramatic negative effect on access to Canadian literature and history.