Tech pushes for focus on copyright in NAFTA renegotiations

Tech pushes for focus on copyright in NAFTA renegotiations
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The technology industry is mobilizing to push the Trump administration over concerns on copyright matters in discussions to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Top technology trade associations, which lobby on behalf technology firms’ political interests, say in a letter on Wednesday  they’re concerned that NAFTA renegotiation discussions are going in the wrong direction on copyright provisions.

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Trade associations like the Information Technology Industry Council, the Internet Association and the Consumer Technology Association, which represent massive firms like Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as Engine, which advocates on behalf of startups, say copyright talks are “departing from a carefully calibrated and balanced compromise” that had been discussed between trade associations and the administration.

The groups push U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE in the letter to find the “right balance in the area of copyright.” 

Technology firms have argued in the past for copyright rules that protect the creators who generate the content that makes their platforms valuable. But they also want to strike a balance so that such laws don’t come at the “expense of free speech,” as the Internet Association puts it.

Tech firms also want to make sure that intellectual property provisions in copyright laws don’t allow for easy lawsuits that result in what some call frivolous "patent troll" cases. Such cases have frustrated tech companies like Apple and Intel as they field lawsuits from smaller companies that hold patents but make their money through such court cases, instead of manufacturing and producing their own products.

NAFTA talks are now in their fifth round. Leaders from the U.S., Mexico and Canada convened in Mexico City on Wednesday to continue negotiations.