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    WIPO Copyright Committee Tackles Visually Impaired Access, Other Exceptions

    Published on 8 November 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is meeting this week in an attempt to advance proposals to improve global access to copyrighted works, following a disappointing summer meeting that ended without agreement. This week’s meeting also includes renewed discussions of proposed treaties on broadcasters’ rights and rights over audiovisual performances.

    Participants asked before today’s opening plenary session declined to place high expectations of a breakthrough agreement on differences such as how to move forward on a proposed treaty increasing visually impaired readers’ access to online books, while not leaving behind other exceptions and limitations to copyright such as the needs of libraries. The SCCR is meeting from 8-12 November.

    Still, there was hope that progress would be made on these proposals, as well as on broadcasting and audiovisual performances.

    “We’ll see in this meeting if there is progress” on limitations and exceptions, SCCR Chair Jukka Liedes told Intellectual Property Watch. “We should have the opportunity to discuss all the proposals.”

    He noted that in the committee, preparation for treaty negotiations “has always taken time.” Liedes has chaired the committee for over a decade, in which time failed attempts at diplomatic conferences (the highest-level treaty negotiations) occurred on the broadcasting (2007) and audiovisual (2000) treaties [corrected].

    “We are just beginning to look at the proposals (on exceptions and limitations),” Liedes said. “We don’t know when there will be agreement.” But, he added, “I am an optimist.”

    But proponents of greater access to reading material for the blind and visually impaired have expressed a sense of urgency in negotiations as the limited access is considered to be of crisis proportions.

    At the last SCCR meeting in June, the most debated issue was copyright exceptions and limitations, with four proposals submitted by delegations (IPW, WIPO, 22 June 2010). Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Mexico suggested the adoption of an international treaty to facilitate access for the visually impaired persons (based on a World Blind Union proposal), the African Group proposal offered a broader perspective, the United States proposed a “draft consensus instrument,” and the European Union has suggested a draft joint recommendation.

    The African Group, which has an interest in including broader exceptions and limitations, submitted a proposal in June including exceptions and limitations for education and research institutions, libraries, and archive centres (IPW, Copyright, 26 June 2010).

    There is a possibility of some discussion during the week about ways to link together the exceptions, broadcasting and audiovisual issues, according to several sources, but it is unclear how this could be achieved.

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

     

    Comments

    1. john e miller says:

      I read the stream-text of the day two WIPO SCCR sessions. The EU Representative referred to Article 4 of the EU proposal WIPO SCCR 20_12 regarding ‘cross border transfer of physical works in accessible formats …’

      I am assuming by ‘physical works’ he is mostly but maybe not solely referring to Braille embossed paper books. The Braille rendition of the latest Harry Potter book (according to The National Braille Press in Boston) weighed 17 pounds. The same book on Amazon.com has a shipping weight of one pound. A BRF Braille ASCII file that will allow Braille embossing on-site and in-country weighs nothing.

      So when will the WIPO SCCR start to consider the environmental and climate change implications of any proposed policy that would encourage cumbersome heavy Braille books to start flying — even if postage free — all over the world?

    2. john e miller says:

      On the websites of WIPO VisionIP.org Forum (6JUL2010), on this IP-Watch.org (8JUL2010) and other NGO websites I have made a Proposal for a Braille-Only Treaty based on Copyright Law of Japan section 37 that is a total of 3 paragraphs excluding Preamble. It dispenses with virtually ALL of the definitions that have been the gist and contention of the WIPO SCCR21 discussions to date at least the parts I have been able to monitor on the StreamText.

      As I mention in those posts, a Braille BRF ASCII file is accessible to persons using DAISY players, screen readers, and other output devices though with limited navigation capability… but is of NO use to persons without such equipment whether in Grade1 Braille or especially if in Grade 2… It is not an XML file.

      The Treaty I propose would have no restrictions on cross border transfer in either direction and would not require extensive legislation or new infrastructure especially withion developing countries where access is the most limited.

      The following is the BRF ASCII text version of a sample paragraph from ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire” as opened in text file without special Braille reading software — see for yourself:

      ,,GIRL ”’ ,,FIRE ,VOL4 #E #HDF

      SEV]ELY W.D$1 B HE 0 9 A LOT ( PA94 ,&
      YES1 ! CAB9 0 [N$ 0,NILS ,BJURMAN1 A
      LAWY]4 ,! LATE ,NILS ,BJURMAN1 T IS1 !
      MAN “! 0 S M* AB 9 ! PAP]S4
      ,! ,/R@ANGN@AS POLICE _H ALR _H AN
      EV5T;L “D ) AN EXT5SIVE TRA6IC *ECK 9 !
      -MUN;Y4 ,DUR+ ! C\RSE (! MORN+ ! TRA6IC
      ASSIGN;T _H BE5 9T]RUPT$ :5 A CALL CAME
      9 T A MI4LE-AG$ WOMAN _H BE5 KILL$ 0H]
      BOYFR AT ! H\SE !Y %>$ 9 ,F9N+E4 ,AT ALM
      ! SAME “T A FIRE _H SPR1D F AN \TH\SE
      96A PROP]TY 9 ,/ORG@ARDET4 ,”O BODY 0
      F.D 9 ! WRECKAGE4 ,& 6TOP X ALL1 TWO C>S
      _H COLLID$ H1D-ON ON ! ,5KOP+ HI<WAY4
      ,ACLY ! ,/R@ANGN@AS POLICE =CE 0 BUSY1
      ALM 6A MAN4

      Why would any copyright holder consider this a threat and again it can be accessed by the same equipment and software as would be used for DAISY without all the eBook or Mp3 implications..

      I posted the following comment in The New York Times in Nicholas Kristof's column 26 OCT 2010:

      (quote) … Under US law Copyright exemptions certain 501c3 Non Profits can only make available Braille renditions of copyrighted materials to US citizens. The leading USA-based Non Profit that provides such materials to persons who are print-disabled has said that it seeks from the US Copyright Office (USCO) "… reliable confidence that exporting and importing are legal today; not, try it and see if you get sued."

      Another Non Profit group stated in USCO written testimony: "It is arguably already the case that imports and exports are allowed under the U.S. law, although the legal uncertainly has apparently deterred people from importing or exporting works created under exceptions."

      There are similar representations that under the UK 'Visually Impaired Persons Act of 2002' such materials cannot be exported from the UK … The World Blind Union says in their WIPO Treaty Proposal that "… 90 percent of visually impaired persons live in countries of low or moderate incomes."

      It is my firm belief however that under certain provisions and conditions of existing law, Braille renditions of books under both USA and UK Copyright can *as of right now* be legally exported to these developing countries … and I am doing so right now and am not 'deterred'. (end quote)

      On 22 OCT 2010 I commented in Mr. Kristof's column in The New York Times :

      (quote) The 'Braille Salt March' is my worldwide venture of my US 501c3 Non Profit — I am involved in providing free Braille renditions of great literature to visually or reading disabled persons of *all* countries; not just the USA or UK as conventional interpretation of Copyright Law would currently allow … (end quote)

      For interpretations of copyright law I rely upon written opinions and statements by the US Copyright Office for the US Copyright Act and the RNIB for the UK 2002 Act.

      I am hoping that some favorable progress is made at WIPO SCCR 21 however as of today there have been no new initiatives at least made publicly … only the existing four proposals.

      Should no significant progress be made, and, as I will have my 60th birthday just following the New Year, I will do my best to let persons at the AAP, IAP, and any other publisher organization know — and quite publicly know — that I will utilize any and all provisions of US and UK VIP Copyright Law as *I* interpret … and then others in the Rights Holder community can have their say.

      I will attempt to widely and very publicly distribute to qualified persons in WIPO Member countries Braille versions of English language works that I consider to be under the purview of the UK (VIP)Act 2002 as per:

      This Braille transcription is made under the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002, an act to permit, without infringement of copyright, the transfer of copyright works to formats accessible to visually impaired persons, as specified in Section 31A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988 of the United Kingdom.

      Note: 'Salt March' at UN website — http://www.umovement.org/p/372001-braille-salt-march

    3. john e miller says:

      Subsequent to posting Comment 1. above, I have found that WIPO is in the middle of a “Carbon Neutrality Project” whose Cover Page includes the following:

      “A balanced IP system has an extremely important role to play in fostering the creation, diffusion and application of clean technologies.The power of human ingenuity is our best hope for restoring the delicate balance between ourselves and our environment. It is our greatest asset in finding solutions to this global challenge, enabling us to move forward from the carbon-based, grey technologies of the past to the carbon-neutral, green innovation of the future.”

      Francis Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

      http://www.greeningtheblue.org/what-the-un-is-doing/world-intellectual-property-organization-wipo

      How can WIPO in their Progress in Carbon Neutrality ‘Progress’ Report* remark that they have eliminated disposable paper cups from the WIPO cafeteria and then encourage — as does the language of the EU and USA WIPO SCCR20 proposal documents — having ‘physical’ heavy Braille paper embossed books flying all over the world?

      * http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/govbody/en/a_48/a_48_16.pdf

    4. john e miller says:

      In the WIPO SCCR Secretariat document 20_7 it states the following re: question 71:

      “71. Does national statute contain any limitations or exceptions that permit the importation or exportation of material accessible to visually impaired persons?

      “The laws of five Member States include limitations and exceptions permitting the importation or exportation of material accessible to visually impaired persons. For example, the copyright law of the United States of America contains a special set of exceptions regarding the copyright holder’s control of distribution (importation and exportation) permitting individuals and authorized entities to engage in many acts of importation to meet the needs of persons with print disabilities.”

      The detailed US response says that ‘authorized entities’ are *already* exempt from restrictions in Sections 106 and 602 regarding distribution of copyright materials. Go figure … especially as juxtaposed with the US delegation’s WIPO SCCR 20_10 ‘Consensus Agreement’.


    Leave a Reply

    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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