US Isolated In Opposition To WIPO Treaty For The Blind, Group SaysPublished on 3 December 2012 @ 8:10 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
The United States now stands alone in its opposition to a World Intellectual Property Organization treaty on copyright exceptions for blind and and other print-disabled readers, the World Blind Union (WBU) said today.
The isolation comes after the European Union announced its support for the idea of a binding treaty on the exceptions, the WBU said in a press release. The EU, which had long taken a hardline stance that it should be a non-binding instrument rather than a treaty, changed positions at the last meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), which was held from 19-23 November (IPW, WIPO, 24 November 2012).
“We have campaigned for years with hundreds of members of the European Parliament to get EU backing for a treaty,” Dan Pescod, who leads WBU’s European campaign for the treaty, said in the release. “This is a significant and welcome step forward, but the EU needs now to ensure it supports the human rights of blind people to access information. It should do this by negotiating a simple and workable treaty.”
A WIPO “Extraordinary” General Assembly, a gathering of all WIPO members, will be held on 17 December to decide whether to proceed to diplomatic conference – a high-level treaty negotiation – in 2013.
The US delegation continued to avoid use of the word “treaty” at the SCCR, sources said. Maryanne Diamond, leader of the WBU delegation, said, “I had to point out the omission of the word ‘treaty’ from the warm words of the US head of delegation. The USA has had time decide its position on a treaty- it is now high time it made its support clear”.
The treaty is vital, said Chris Friend, head of the WBU’s Right to Read campaign, because, “We need those provisions to clearly permit cross-border sharing of accessible books both between organisations and directly from organisations to blind or print disabled individuals. We reject complicated requirements for checks on whether the books are commercially available. Such procedures would sacrifice the usability of the treaty on the altar of publisher reassurance.”