The administrative head of New Zealand's biggest university on Wednesday expressed fears that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could "lock up" the country's cultural heritage and prevent research and cultural performances.
University of Auckland vice-chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said leaks of the secret agreement gave rise to serious concerns and highlighted just how damaging its intellectual property provisions could be.
These included extending copyright from the "life of the author plus 50 years" to "life plus 70 years" for works created by individuals and either 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation for corporately owned works like Mickey Mouse.
"This is well beyond the internationally agreed period of 'life plus 50 years' set out in existing international agreements," McCutcheon said in a statement.
"If this is what happens, it will lock up our cultural heritage for a further 20 years, denying all New Zealanders access. It means students, creators, performers, researchers and educational institutions will be denied access to culturally significant material it's this material which forms the basis of new creations."
The leaked provisions could also have a negative impact on educational institutions by increasing costs and restricting access to information resources including film and sound recordings.
"It has been claimed that the leaked provisions are out of date, but of course we just don't know the situation because the details have not been revealed. We really need government to be more upfront about where all this is heading so that we all understand its implications," he said.
Secret negotiations on the highly controversial agreement are reported to be in the final stages, but some of the 12 nations have said they will not ratify the TPP unless U.S. President Barack Obama receives fast-track approval authority from Congress.