ALIA concerned about internet censorship

Trade agreement could lead to even tougher copyright regime

Friday 17 October 2014 Canberra: The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the peak body for library and information professionals, is concerned that a second leaked draft of the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will lead to internet censorship.

Wikileaks published the updated draft chapter on IP which forms part of the TPP.

The TPP is an economic trade agreement that will, if agreed, be a pathway to realising a vision of a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific. The IP chapter includes copyright issues and digital rights.

Proposals in the leaked document would bind participating nations, including Australia, to tougher copyright laws than now exist under current national laws.

The draft proposals could criminalise some online activity, lead to invasions of Australians’ privacy and would impact our ability to share and collaborate online.

ALIA, through its membership of the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC), campaigns for policies which support the right of access to the world’s information, the free flow of information and the freedom to read and access material.

Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive of ALIA, said: ‘Censorship is an issue about which many people, especially people who work in the library and information sector are truly passionate.’

‘We are opposed to censorship and are very skeptical about proposals for censoring or filtering the internet.’

‘Information belongs to everyone and this is the foundation of a fair, open and democratic society. Freedom can be protected in a democratic society only if its citizens have unrestricted access to information and ideas.’

Margaret Allen, Chair of ALCC and the CEO and State Librarian of the State Library of Western Australia, said: ‘I'm astounded to learn that longer copyright terms are still on the table.  Longer copyright terms simply mean it is harder to get valuable resources out of library stacks and into the hands of our patrons.’

‘It hinders our world-class digitisation projects, risks fragile items and unnecessarily locks away knowledge, ideas and culture. Longer copyright terms are also bad for the economy, our last increase of copyright terms, imposed with the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, cost the country $88 million per year.'

TPP negotiators are meeting in Sydney next week to address outstanding issues in the negotiations such as those related to intellectual property.

‘We are calling on ALIA Members to inform these negotiators that we’re opposed to internet censorship. We will be asking our Members to campaign against the ideas in the proposed leaked draft by voicing their views on social media and through other outlets.’

The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network is holding rallies in Canberra on Monday 20 October and in Sydney on Saturday 25 October.

ALIA is soon to start a community campaign called FAIR Freedom of Access to Information and Resources. ALIA is creating FAIR to give people a way to actively support all kinds of libraries and the issues which the library and information Sector feels passionate about. There will be more information about this campaign in the coming months. Censorship and internet filtering are two issues which the campaign will oppose.


Background on TPP

The countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, the United States, Japan, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Peru, Chile, Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand.  The TPP countries jointly account for almost 40 per cent of the global economy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) notes that the Asia-Pacific region is a key driver of global economic growth; close to half of all global trade, and around 70 per cent of Australia's trade flows through the region.

Information on the DFAT website notes: ‘Conclusion of the TPP would open new trade and investment opportunities for Australia in the Asia-Pacific region, further integrate our economy in this fast growing region, and promote and facilitate regional supply chains.  By setting commonly agreed rules and promoting transparency of new laws and regulations, the agreement will provide certainty for businesses and reduce costs and red tape for Australian exporters, service suppliers and investors.’

Trade and Investment Minister, Andrew Robb, expects that the ….’TPP will lower tariffs in key markets and remove non-tariff trade barriers which will reduce business costs.  Currently, about a third of Australia’s exports are headed for TPP countries.’

About the Australian Library and Information Association

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is the professional organisation for the Australian library and information services sector. With 5,000 members across Australia, we provide the national voice of the profession in the development, promotion and delivery of quality library and information services, through leadership, advocacy and mutual support.



Heather Wellard, Communications Manager: | 02 6215 8225 |

0409 830 439




Friday 17 October 2014 1:30pm