The federal government is staying quiet on reports it has caved to U.S. demands on intellectual property and copyright issues in a new Pacific trade deal currently under negotiation, saying only that talks are ongoing.

Citing a report from the Washington Trade Daily, the Council of Canadians says Canada has backed off its resistance to “outrageous” new intellectual property rights the U.S. wants to see included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

WikiLeaks, which released a draft copy of the IP chapter of the deal last month, described it as having “far-reaching implications for individual rights and civil liberties.”

Critics of the deal say if the U.S. gets its way, the result could be the criminalization of small-scale copyright infringement and households being disconnected from the internet under laws that punish unauthorized downloading. Internet providers would be forced to do more monitoring of their subscribers, and it would be easier for governments to remove websites, critics say.

Additionally, proposed extensions to drug patents and copyright terms would mean more expensive drugs and other products, critics say.

"Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among others, dropped their objections to the high-standard disciplines in intellectual property and came on board by agreeing to the modified text," the Council of Canadians quoted the Trade Daily as saying.

"Effectively, there is consensus on the intellectual property dossier except for one developing country."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade did not address the claims directly, but told HuffPost Canada that “the IP chapter is still under negotiation and Canada continues to advance its interests at the negotiating table.”

Canada "is committed to ensuring that its intellectual property regime balances the interests of both rightholders and users," a DFAIT spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

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  • 1. It Could Criminalize Small-Scale Downloading

  • 1. It Could Criminalize Small-Scale Downloading

    Canada’s new copyright laws, passed last fall, cap the liability for unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material at $5,000, so long as the downloading is not for commercial purposes. But the TPP could force Canada to institute criminal penalties even for small-time downloaders, according to a number of consumer advocacy groups. Canada’s top negotiator at the talks last fall <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/13/trans-pacific-partnership-tpp-canada_n_2294153.html" target="_hplink">refused to say whether Canada would fight for its new copyright laws in the TPP deal</a>.

  • 2. It Could Reduce Or End CanCon Rules

  • 2. It Could Reduce Or End CanCon Rules

    An umbrella group of U.S. media companies has been<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/04/trans-pacific-partnership-cancon_n_1940312.html" target="_hplink"> lobbying the U.S. Trade Representative to pressure Canada into repealing Canadian content rules as part of the TPP</a>. That has raised significant concerns among music and film and TV groups that Canada’s cultural industries could be threatened by the TPP.

  • 3. ISPs Could Become Internet Cops

  • 3. ISPs Could Become Internet Cops

    Article 16 of a leaked 2011 draft of the TPP <a href="http://keionline.org/sites/default/files/tpp-10feb2011-us-text-ipr-chapter.pdf" target="_hplink">mandates that countries create “legal incentives” for internet service providers to do their own copyright policing online</a>. That is interpreted by many to mean that ISPs could be held legally accountable if their subscribers download illegally. Consumer groups fear this will mean expanded monitoring of web users’ online habits, and the possibility of three-strikes-and-you’re-out rules that would cut off internet services to subscribers alleged to have engaged in unauthorized downloading.

  • 4. Critics Call The TPP A Corporate Giveaway

  • 4. Critics Call The TPP A Corporate Giveaway

    U.S. House Rep. Alan Grayson, who rose to fame four years ago with his quip that the Republican health care plan amounts to hoping you “die quickly,” was recently allowed to see a draft copy of the TPP. While he’s been banned from divulging any details, the populist Florida Democrat described it in a recent blog post as an agreement that “<a href="http://alangraysonemails.tumblr.com/post/53325968066/i-saw-the-secret-trade-deal" target="_hplink">hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests</a>.” He told HuffPost: "Having seen what I've seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty … And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that's fair to say from what I've seen so far. But I'm not allowed to tell you why!" He added on his blog: “There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.”

  • 5. It’s Not Secret To Lobbyists

  • 5. It’s Not Secret To Lobbyists

    While politicians like Grayson have to keep quiet in public about what they’ve seen, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/30/trans-pacific-partnership_n_2218417.html" target="_hplink">a “consultation group” likely composed of lobbyists has had access to the talks through the Canadian delegation</a>, critics say. OpenMedia reported it received a non-disclosure agreement the group said was mistakenly sent to them, and was apparently meant for industry insiders. “It appears ... the Canadian government got confused about which contacts were industry lobbyists and which are from public interest groups,” OpenMedia stated. The Harper government had previously denied that such a group existed.

  • 6. It Could Mean Foreign Telecom Coming To Canada

  • 6. It Could Mean Foreign Telecom Coming To Canada

    This might not be something the Harper government wants to keep from the public, which is largely unhappy with the state of telecom in Canada, but it could be something it’s trying to keep out of sight of Canada’s telecom companies. The U.S. Trade Representative recently criticized Canada’s protectionist telecom policies, along with policies in a number of other countries negotiating the TPP. That has led some to conclude Canada will come under pressure to relax restrictions on foreign ownership of telecoms. The Tories have previously loosened foreign ownership rules in order to spur competition in the wireless market, so there is a good chance they will be receptive to further liberalization of telecom regulations.

  • 7. Corporations Could Control Your Browsing History

  • 7. Corporations Could Control Your Browsing History

    One of the clauses being debated in the TPP would allow corporations to decide themselves<a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/07/temporary-copies-another-way-tpp-profoundly-disconnected" target="_hplink"> whether internet browsers can make “temporary copies” to your computer’s history folder</a>. Temporary copies are a basic element of how web browsers work (it's what they use to remember your browsing history). Critics say allowing companies to control what is and isn’t copied could harm the ability of search engines to become more sophisticated. It could also have a chilling effect on tech innovation, as it could halt the development of apps that, for example, use a picture of a book cover or a part of a song to identify that book or song.

  • 8. It Could Change Your Grocery Bill

  • 8. It Could Change Your Grocery Bill

    Canada was reportedly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sara-zborovski/tradenegotiations_b_1876833.html" target="_hplink">kept out of TPP negotiations at first because of its supply management system</a>, which controls the price of some basic grocery goods like milk and eggs. Canada’s acceptance into the talks has been interpreted by some as meaning the Tories are willing to put the supply management system on the table. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/31/wheat-board-monopoly-over-date_n_1722357.html" target="_hplink">The Tories have already ended the Wheat Board’s monopoly</a>.) Many Canadians would like to see the end of the “milk and eggs monopoly,” and supporters of change say freeing up the market would result in lower prices. Supporters of the current system say there is no reason to believe prices will go down without supply management, and it will make business less stable for farmers.

  • 9. Copyright Terms Will Likely Be Expanded

  • 9. Copyright Terms Will Likely Be Expanded

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports the TPP would amount to <a href="https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp" target="_hplink">the most significant expansion of copyright terms in two decades</a>. The group says the TPP proposes to extend copyright on works created by individuals to life plus 70 years. (In Canada, it’s currently life plus 50 years). It would also expand copyright owned by corporations to 95 or 120 years after creation, depending on which proposal is accepted. This would ensure that Mickey Mouse (born 1928) would continue to be owned by Disney and would not become part of the public domain. Critics of lengthy copyright terms argue they are bad for economic development because they restrict innovation.

  • 10. You May Have To Do Less Copying And Quoting

  • 10. You May Have To Do Less Copying And Quoting

    The U.S. and Australia apparently want tougher rules for “fair use” exceptions from copyright law. Currently, people are allowed to copy parts of textbooks for educational purposes, or quote copyrighted materials in news articles. But <a href="https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp" target="_hplink">a proposed “three-step test” for fair use</a> could make it considerably harder for people to use parts of copyrighted materials in these ways.

  • 11. Even Politicians Are Fed Up With The Secrecy

    Pictured: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

  • 11. Even Politicians Are Fed Up With The Secrecy

    Some U.S. politicians have been pressuring President Barack Obama to open up the TPP talks to greater public scrutiny. The latest is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/13/elizabeth-warren-free-trade-letter_n_3431118.html" target="_hplink">sent a letter to the Obama administration earlier this month asking the U.S. Trade Representative to make a copy of the negotiating text available to the public</a>. “<a href="http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/EWFromanLetter.pdf" target="_hplink">Without transparency, the benefit from robust democratic participation — an open marketplace of ideas — is considerably reduced</a>,” she wrote.

Documents released by WikiLeaks last month showed Canada had been in the majority of negotiating countries in resisting the IP provisions the U.S. wants. It’s unclear whether Canada’s reported change of stance, along with the shift by other countries, now gives the U.S. the muscle to make the IP provisions part of the final agreement. Negotiations continue under a veil of secrecy, with the latest round wrapping up in Singapore last week.

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew called on the federal government to release the proposed text of the TPP to the public.

“This is a transparent effort to find more profits for U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies by undermining other countries’ efforts to keep health costs down,” he said.

“People have a right to see what other ridiculous trade-offs are happening in the TPP negotiations. The Harper government, and all TPP countries, owe it to everyone to make the full text public now.”

Along with Canada and the U.S., the countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

A trade area among those countries would have a population of nearly 800 million and would represent more than 38 per cent of the world economy.