TPPA success and how to lobby

David Farrar has an excellent post at Kiwiblog – The battle for the IP chapter – on how a number of groups lobbied on IP issues on the Trans pacific Partnership, engaging with with MFAT and MBIE negotiators, with lobbyists and negotiators from other countries.

He details a number of proposals on IP that he (and others) opposed and wanted to do what they could to exclude them from the TPP, and it seems with some success.

These provisions would have been truly horrible, if they had been agreed to. The good thing is that with the exception of the extension of the term (which is more a copyright than Internet issue) the US got beaten back on pretty much all of this. I’m not saying the IP chapter is great (there are still a couple of areas of concern which we need to see the detail on) but this truly horrible stuff is not in there – software is not patentable still, parallel importing remains legal, you can circumvent TPMs for legal purposes, ISPs don’t face extra liability, no changes to our three strikes law for filesharing infringing (which rights holders don’t like).

So why did the US not get its way on much in this chapter? Is it because it was an unimportant chapter? No, far from it. For several years it has been said that the IP chapter will be one of the most difficult. Many in the media thought the big battle was Pharmac, but in reality that was never at great risk. The PM and others had often said that the IP chapter was one of the big challenges.

This was a concern, as those of us against the US demands, were worried that the IP chapter would be traded at the lost moment with the US, in order to gain a better deal elsewhere. We wanted to stop that happening, and make the price of compromising on the IP chapter too high, so what did we do.

By we I mean groups such as InternetNZ, IITP, TUANZ and NZ Rise. I don’t speak for any of them, this is just my views as someone who was involved.

It’s well worth reading through. This post makes a good template for practical politics and effective lobbying.

Farrar also points out that those opposing the TPP outright because they don’t like trade deals or they don’t like the Key Government are unlikely to be taken seriously by decision makers and negotiators.

So in the end these opponents do not get much traction either, because their opposition is more about who the Government is, than what is in the TPP. That doesn’t mean their criticism do not have validity, just that their motivations are more about bashing the Government.

Activist opponents may have some successes but more often than not they are wasting their time and energy.

Positive engagement is far more likely to have some success than marching in the streets.