What the Trans-Pacific Partnership Gets Wrong about Intellectual Property

With the final text of all 30 chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finally available, there is a lot to scrutinize. Chapters on environmental and labor standards are sure to get a lot of attention, but there is one chapter in particular that should be of concern to those concerned with innovation and freedom of expression: the chapter on intellectual property.

In recent years, the intellectual property (IP) system has been twisted beyond its original intention. Instead of providing incentives for creators, it is now a tool of media conglomerates to shut down competition and capture monopoly profits almost indefinitely. The current copyright term has been extended to the life of the author plus 70 years. Does anyone seriously believe that creative works would suddenly dry up if authors could only collect royalties for 50 years after their deaths? The continued extensions of these terms don’t help creators, they help the Walt Disney Company keep Mickey Mouse from slipping into the public domain well after the iconic rodent’s 80th birthday.