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    Common Text Emerges On Copyright Exceptions For The Blind

    Published on 17 June 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A cross-cutting group of major World Intellectual Property Organization members today produced a “non-paper” on limitations and exceptions to copyright for visually impaired readers at a WIPO meeting on copyright. The group had met in informal consultations for a few months and achieved consensus on the substance this morning, according to sources.

    The text of the non-paper [pdf], a paper that does not yet have official status, was being translated for discussion in plenary meeting this afternoon. And while the substance of the non-paper was agreed by the co-sponsors, the form of the international instrument that would result from it appeared to still be undecided.

    The non-paper was put forward by Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, the European Union and its member states, Mexico, Paraguay, and the United States. The United States and the European Union would prefer to go for a joint recommendation, but many countries, including Brazil, would favour a treaty. Brazil has shifted its stance somewhat more in favour of copyright since its presidential election last autumn, according to officials.

    The 22nd session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is taking place from 15-24 June. The three first days of the meeting have been devoted to discussions on exceptions and limitations to copyright law to allow better access for visually impaired people. Must of the first day was consumed by opening statements, however.

    The non-paper describes the beneficiaries of the instrument, invites countries to introduce in their national copyright laws exceptions or limitations to the right of reproduction, the right of distribution and the right of making available to the public for visually impaired people.

    The non-paper also details cross-border exchange of accessible format copies, conditions of importation of accessible format copies, and technological protection measures. It further describes “authorised entity” which would be “a governmental agency, a non-profit entity or non-profit organization that has as one of its primary missions to assist persons with print disabilities by providing them with services relating to education, training, adaptive reading, or information access.”

    James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, which closely follows this issue along with the World Blind Union and others, writing on his organisation’s A2K listserv, called the text a “major breakthrough.”

    According to the SCCR chair, Manuel Guerra Zamarro, director general of the Mexican National Institute of Copyright, the text was to be translated over lunch and discussions in plenary were supposed to start at 3pm. Delegations would then have had time to go over the non-paper before going into discussions. This is the first SCCR meeting in decades that is not chaired by Jukka Liedes of Finland.

    The United States and Brazil initiated the first informal discussions, a US delegate told Intellectual Property Watch. The non-paper is the result of a “careful compromise between” several countries and is based on “good-faith discussions,” he said, adding, “We did not always agree,” but compromise was reached.

    The informal consultations brought together countries that had submitted draft texts for international instruments during previous sessions. The WIPO secretariat had prepared a comparative document [pdf] of those proposals: One by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, based on a treaty proposed by the World Blind Union, also endorsed by Mexico, one by the US for a consensus instrument, one by the African Group for a treaty on limitations and exceptions, and one from the EU for a joint recommendation. All of those instruments aimed at improving access to works protected by copyrights for visually impaired people.

    South Africa deemed that during those informal consultations, their requirements were not taken into consideration and chose not to support the non-paper, according to a South African source. South Africa wants a treaty but is concerned about the nature and scope of the instrument. South Africa encouraged the other countries to finish drafting the non-paper but withdrew participation. According to a developed country source, the African Group proposal was taken into consideration while drafting the non-paper. South Africa is currently in the role of chair of the African Group.

    The major schism among the countries is about the nature of the instrument. An EU source told Intellectual Property Watch that the EU “cared about results in the real world” and the most speedy and efficient solution to address the problem of access for visually impaired people would be to adopt a joint recommendation.

    One of the major problems of access for visually impaired people to copyrighted works is that there are no exceptions and limitations to copyright laws at the national level. This prevents the cross-border circulation of works in special format for visually impaired readers. For example, countries like France or Spain have national exceptions and limitations for visually impaired readers but the work made in special formats for visually impaired readers cannot be sent to some French-speaking or Spanish-speaking countries because of the lack of exceptions in the receiving countries.

    A treaty would take too long, the EU diplomat said, especially the ratification of the instrument, which could take years. A joint recommendation would not be binding but would engage countries to work at their national level to introduce exceptions and limitations of copyrights in their country.

    All countries participating in the drafting of the non-paper agree on the substance, he said, if not on the form.

    The proponents of a treaty said in the past that only an internationally binding instrument would help solve the problem of access to copyrighted works for visually impaired people.

    William New contributed to this story.

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. john e miller says:

      “Advocates for the visually impaired strongly favour a legally binding instrument with a firm timeframe.” Ms. Saez, IP-Watch, 26JUN2010

      The above ‘non-paper’ is largely contained in SCCR20 20_10 US ‘Draft Consensus Instrument’ and/or 20_12 EU ‘Draft Joint Recommendation’ with TI out and AE in … someone (plural) blinked.

    2. john e miller says:

      As a self-avowed ‘Braille mercenary’ I believe that the digital ASCII Braille BRF file has been held hostage as a more secure digital ‘specialized format’ medium to concerns over more desirable mainstream formats such as ePub, DAISY, and the various other non-specialized formats including PDF and RTF … and that BRF Braille continues to be so in the current ‘Non-Paper’ proposal. There is ample precedent in multiple national copyright laws especially that of Japan to buttress this assertion.

      The inherent security or ‘non-desirability’ of any file will always out-simplify digital fingerprints, watermarks, encryption, extensive database maintenance, or other possible ‘trust’ compliance measures. Such provisions may be beyond the technical. financial, and human resource means of many of the proposed authorized entities especially in developing countries and even those small developed country organizations which are the backbone of current accessible format delivery.

    3. James Broadhead says:

      Isn’t this a direct counter-argument to region and format restrictions which affect _everyone on this planet_?

      I absolutely think that the blind should have free access to buy and use any content in whatever format suits them; but I want that right too!

      If I’ve bought a book or music or a movie, I want to read / listen / watch it on whatever device I happen to own. I want to be able to record the text and listen to it while I walk, I want to listen to the director’s commentary while I’m on the bus, and I don’t want to lose the ebooks I’ve bought when I decide to go with a different brand of ebook-reader.

      Yes absolutely, the blind should be able to do all of this, but so should the deaf, the lame and everybody else under the sun.

    4. john e miller says:

      The following was JULY 2007 correspondence between myself and former American Association of Publishers (AAP) President — and former Member of US Congress from my (then) Congressional district in Colorado — Mrs. Pat Schroeder. I’ll presume enough time has elapsed:

      “In the US we had the Chafee Amendment in Congress that provided free materials to the blind. One problem is everyone is now claiming some disability and insisting they should also get everything free…that would collapse the whole deal.

      “The blind don’t want to deny the others, but also understand if 30% or more of the market gets labeled “disabled” and gets things free, it won’t work. SIGH.”

      Given the wide definition of those who are now to be considered ‘reading disabled’ plus those that might be otherwise eligible under various human rights considerations (illiterate, chronically impoverished, etc.) I sometimes jokingly refer to the ‘disadvantaged majority’ who might be eligible for copyright exception… But I am sure to the various IP and Publisher Rights interests it is no joke.

    5. Books for the blind: Talks at WIPO « Christian Engström, Pirate MEP says:

      [...] More on the WIPO talks: IP-Watch [...]

    6. WIPO Members Advance Draft Texts On Copyright Exceptions, AV Protection | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, the European Union, Mexico, Paraguay, and the United States presented a “non-paper” on exceptions for the visually impaired to the 22nd session on the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), taking place from 15-24 June (IPW, WIPO, 17 June 2011). [...]


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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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