Nearly half of the world’s GDP teeters on the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 622-page document between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Opponents consider it “the dirtiest trade deal you’ve never heard of” due to the secrecy surrounding the negotiations. The 11 other countries included in the deal include Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

Negotiations that started in 2010 were kept fully secret until a 2013 Wikileaks release of the document’s chapter on Intellectual Property Rights. The leak exposed what was to come in terms of copyrighting, digital rights management (DRM) and torrenting—the downloading and sharing of large files. Copyright infringement would be met with “criminal procedures and penalties… of sufficient severity to provide a deterrent” for further offenses.

The US Electronics Frontiers Foundation commented on TPP, saying,“We have to do everything we can to stop this agreement from getting signed, ratified, and put into force.”

The agreement was completed in October 2015, but each of the 12 countries needs to pass the contract in their respective countries. On the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s website, the TPP is advertised as “leveling the playing field for American workers and American businesses.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) writes the rules for global trade—rules that will help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class,” the website writes.

Article via CNET, February 6, 2016

Photo: Eimskip Ship via Corey Templeton [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Due to confusion about the definition of an application programming interface, or API for short, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that they are are subject to copyright. The confusion surrounds the distinction between software and APIs. While the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, also known as the CAFC, appears to have made the ruling based on the idea that software and APIs are the same, it is clear that there are many differences between the two. According to Pam Samuelson, a highly respected authority on copyright law, “The design of many program structures, including APIs, is inherently functional and aimed at achieving technical goals of efficiency.” Basically, saying an API is the same as software is akin to thinking “a dictionary is the same as a novel that uses those words”, as explained in an article by Techdirt concerning the CAFC’s ruling. Therefore, APIs aren’t copyrightable just because software is.

If APIs are more similar to “processes, procedures, systems, and methods”  than software as Samuelson says in her paper “Three Fundamental Flaws in CAFC’s Oracle v. Google Decision”, does the CAFC ruling make sense? In accordance with section 102 of the Copyright Act, which states, “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system…regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work”, APIs should not be copyrightable. However, due to more confusion concerning the purpose and function of APIs, the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case. Therefore, as of now, the ruling made by the CAFC will remain in place.

Article via Techdirt, August 18, 2015

Photo: Free Stock: Copyright sign 3D render via MusesTouch – digiArt & design [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]