28 August 2018Copyright

NAFTA copyright extension plans come under fire

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced yesterday that it has agreed a modernised IP chapter with Mexico as part of updates to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

According to a press release, the updated chapter will provide “strong and effective protection and enforcement of IP rights critical to driving innovation”. As part of the proposed agreement, the minimum copyright term will be extended to ‘life plus 75 years’ for creative works such as songs.

Copyright protection currently extends to the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

NAFTA, a trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, is currently being renegotiated.

However, the proposal to extend the copyright protection term has come under fire from freedom of expression group Public Knowledge.

Gus Rossi, global policy director at the organisation, called the proposed extension a “staggeringly brazen attempt by the entertainment industries to launder unpopular policies through international agreements”.

According to Rossi, this extension violates US Congress’s instructions to the USTR to negotiate IP provisions consistent with existing law.

“Americans deserve a trade agreement that fosters innovation, creation, and the free flow of knowledge by recognising necessary exceptions and limitations to copyright,” he said.

“Copyright terms are already absurdly long. Extending them even further is totally unnecessary, and will only shrink the public domain while making problems like orphan works even worse.”

Rossi explained that this would be a “gift” to the big entertainment companies and added that the proposal is “impossible to justify” under the constitutional purpose of copyright.

In other sections of the agreement, enforcement authorities will be required to stop suspected counterfeit goods at all areas of entry and exit between Mexico and the US for the first time. It will also enforce criminal procedures and penalties for recording films on camcorders.

In addition, the trade agreement proposes to provide broad protection against trade secrets theft.

While the US and Mexico have agreed these changes, Canada has yet to agree to the terms of the updated deal, but it will hold discussions today, August 28.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Today's top stories

Vodafone speech mark denied US copyright protection

Mo Salah reignites image rights complaint with Egyptian FA

EFF tells SCOTUS that inventions must be new

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

20 November 2017   The Office of the US Trade Representative has released a 17-page document outlining new objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, including commitments on IP protection.
1 October 2018   Extended terms for copyright protecting creative works and patents protecting biologics are key aspects of the updated North American Free Trade Agreement.