WIPO Negotiations Appear Nearer On Treaty For The Blind

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Negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization on the draft text of a treaty on copyright exceptions to benefit visually impaired persons are heading into the final evening of a weeklong committee meeting. Negotiators have made several modifications to the text since yesterday, and work is continuing.

This morning a new version of the draft text was issued and presented, and an updated version was released at the beginning of the afternoon session. The hope is that a text can be transmitted to an Extraordinary General Assembly scheduled for 17-18 December, which will be convened to decide upon a diplomatic conference in 2013. A General Assembly is a meeting of all WIPO member states, usually held once a year in September-October. A diplomatic conference is a top-level treaty negotiation.

The text released this morning was dated 22 November, and is available here [pdf]. At press time, a 23 November version with slight modifications was issued, and will be made available here as soon as possible.

Delegates attending the 19-23 November 25th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), including experts from capitals, are working to find consensual language in several areas.

The 22 November version of the text reflects the changes resulting from yesterday’s late evening informal session.

Meeting Chair Darlington Mwape of Zambia said this morning, after the release of the 22 November version, that progress had been made but that “outstanding” work was still needed on this part of the committee’s agenda (IPW, WIPO, 21 November 2012). The agenda also included issues such as a treaty on broadcasters’ rights.

The WIPO secretariat presented the changes in the 22 November version. The preamble is now a stable text, the secretariat said. Some brackets (reflecting lack of agreement) are still showing in the eighth paragraph, on the role of rights holders in making their works accessible for people with visual impairments and print disabilities.

In Article A, on definitions, the definition of “work” is now cleaned of brackets, said the secretariat, with a footnote offering clarification on audio books. The definition of “authorized entity,” which designates institutions that will be providing special format works to visually impaired and print-disabled persons, is also now clean, also with a footnote, clarifying the word “primary” in a sentence describing primary activities of institutions. Both footnotes mention the future drafting of an “interpretative understanding/agreed statement.”

A change was also made to Article Bbis, on the nature and scope of obligations, by moving a “cluster package” on principles of application. In the two previous versions of the draft document, the article included the “cluster package” from a group of members that worked on the article before this week’s meeting. The voluntary member group included Brazil, the European Union, India, Nigeria and the United States.

The “cluster package” on principles of application now appears at the end of the draft treaty text and the language on principles has been modified, the secretariat said. But it is unclear how it was modified.

Both the principles of application, which include reference to national implementation of the future instrument, and the text of Article Bbis remained bracketed in the 22 November text.

According to the secretariat speaking in plenary this afternoon, a 23 November version of the draft text was issued this afternoon and adopted as a working document by the plenary.

The secretariat said it shows modifications in Article D, on cross-border exchange of accessible format copies. In particular, the last paragraph of the article that was bracketed is deleted. The paragraph referred to authorised entities’ knowledge of the use of accessible format copies by other than beneficiary persons.

In the principles of application, under the “respect for copyright” provision, the last sentence of the second paragraph has been deleted, the secretariat said. The sentence referred to exceptions and limitations provided by national law.

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

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