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    Group Of Countries To Back Proposal For WIPO Treaty On Blind Readers’ Rights

    Published on 25 May 2009 @ 12:33 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A group of Latin American and Caribbean countries have declared their intention to support discussion of a proposal to negotiate a World Intellectual Property Organization treaty ensuring an exception to copyright for visually impaired readers who lack access to protected reading materials. The proposal is expected to be brought to the floor of a key copyright committee meeting this week.

    The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will meet from 25-29 May.

    Representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay, plus non-governmental organisations met from 13-14 May in Montevideo to discuss a World Blind Union proposal for a treaty negotiation. The group agreed by consensus on the need to advance the proposal as a basis for negotiation, especially in light of the international convention on the rights of disabled persons that includes a right of non-discriminatory access. They were to communicate their position to their own governments, they said in a declaration.

    An English translation of the Montevideo declaration is available here [pdf].

    Brazil announced its intention to introduce the WBU proposal at this week’s SCCR meeting, supported by several members.

    The concern is that visually impaired readers, especially in developing countries, have access to only a fraction of written material in the world, often due to costs deriving from copyright restrictions on the works. For instance, a blind reader in one country may not have access to a version of a book for blind readers in another country due to restrictions on cross-border distribution.

    The WBU proposal came up at the last meeting of the SCCR in November 2008 as a non-governmental proposal referred to by some government delegations during the meeting. At that meeting, all members agreed to a line in the meeting conclusions that stated, “a number of delegations referred to a paper presented by the World Blind Union and expressed interest in further analysing it.” (IPW, WIPO, 9 November 2008).

    Exceptions and limitations are a standard part of copyright law, generally recognising the special needs for access for education, disabled persons, museums, journalists and so forth. The issue has been under discussion in the WIPO copyright committee for several years, following a proposal from Chile.

    The WBU proposal and discussions of a possible treaty are separate from another initiative at the SCCR to collect the views of the copyright industry and visually impaired stakeholders gathered by the secretariat since the last meeting.

    The interim stakeholder “platform” report is among the documents readied by the secretariat for this week’s meeting, and reflects meetings held by WIPO in January in Geneva and April in London. It aims at encouraging ongoing discussion on possible solutions by stakeholders with an eye toward seeking a private-sector breakthrough that has been elusive for years. This approach echoes the industry preference to leave it to them to find solutions rather than undertake a treaty negotiation that could lead to binding terms.

    The Montevideo group took the view that the treaty talks can be undertaken with or without the platform, as the platform would not resolve all issues, a source said.

    Also among the documents prepared for the meeting is supplementary information by the secretariat on WIPO studies on limitations and exceptions, including details on progress on treatment of reading disabled persons. This includes updates on laws in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Russia, Greece and Ecuador.

    A questionnaire on exceptions and limitations for libraries, education and the visually impaired also will be reviewed at the meeting. The secretariat was asked to prepare the questionnaire at the last SCCR meeting, and governments will have until 1 October 2009 to complete the 52 questions.

    The committee will elect a chair for the meeting. In the case of the SCCR, unlike any other WIPO committee, the same person has been chair for as long as a decade: Jukka Liedes of Finland. He has generally shown sympathy for developed country – especially European – perspectives. It is unclear why developing countries do not push an alternative candidate for the chairmanship.

    Also on the opening day of the WIPO committee meeting, 25 May, there will be a daylong “informational meeting on developments in broadcasting.” This will look at various aspects of IP rights and broadcasting, an issue that rose to a high-level treaty negotiation at WIPO in 2007 before collapsing in disagreement. Many thought the issue was dead at WIPO but there are some members, likely led by Europe, who keep the issue on the table.

    The informational meeting will cover topics such as developments in industry and technology, development, sports broadcasting, governance and the public interest.

    It is unclear how the informational session will play into the copyright committee meeting.

    Another perennial committee issue, treatment of audiovisual performances, is on the week’s agenda as well.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. World Blind Union Won’t Be Sidetracked From Quest For Treaty On Reading Access | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Discussions at WIPO intensified in 2009 with Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay submitting a treaty originally proposed by the WBU, relating to limitations and exceptions. Some countries, such as the European Union and the United States have been resisting the idea of a treaty, and instead have proposed a joint recommendation without legally binding effects (IPW, WIPO, 25 May 2009). [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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