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    WIPO Members En Route To Diplomatic Conference On Treaty For The Blind

    Published on 17 December 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    After several hours in informal consultations, delegates attending the 42nd session of the World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly (and 22nd Extraordinary Session) came out of the room this evening with good news.

    According to several sources, flexibility was shown and a favourable decision is expected to be formalised tomorrow morning on a diplomatic conference to negotiate a treaty creating exceptions to copyright for the benefit of visually impaired people, to be held in June 2013, likely in Morocco.

    The latest text of the decision, circulated by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), to be approved tomorrow morning, is here.

    The Extraordinary General Assembly opened this morning with high hopes that it would address the needs of visually impaired people. Most countries voiced support for a diplomatic conference but some of them outlined pending issues and wished to link the conference with progress in the draft treaty text.

    The Assembly is being held from 17-18 December. The treaty would provide limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing cross-border dissemination of works in accessible formats for visually impaired people (IPW, WIPO, 16 December 2012).

    According to sources, the new language of the Assembly’s decision should contain mention of one special working session in February, to be followed if necessary by other sessions before the June conference. Some countries insisted that the discussions during those working sessions be limited to substantive talks about the draft treaty.

    In the afternoon, some textual proposals [pdf] for a decision came out of the informal meeting room. The first paragraph of that document clearly states “the objective of the conference is to negotiate and conclude a treaty.”

    According to sources, the new version of the text to be issued tomorrow morning still contains the word “treaty,” which might allow interpretation that the US finally agreed on this type of instrument.

    The plenary is expected to reconvene tomorrow morning and to make a formal decision on the diplomatic conference and ways to address remaining work to be done on the draft treaty text. A diplomatic conference is UN parlance for a highest level treaty negotiation.

    Long Discussion on Conditions for Negotiations

    Last-minute consultations among member states delayed the opening of the assembly this morning, according to assembly president, Ambassador Uglješa Zvekić of Serbia. “We have now reached a key moment in the completion of this vital exercise,” he said.

    WIPO Director General Francis Gurry called it “an extremely important moment in the life of this organisation.”

    Member states displayed overwhelming support for convening the high-level negotiation, with Morocco offering to host the event. However, the European Union, in its statement, linked the holding of the conference to success in breaching the remaining issues in the text. The United States supported the diplomatic conference but did not mention a treaty, referring instead to a “legally-binding agreement.”

    The US statement is available here.

    Zvekić called for an informal meeting with regional coordinators after the plenary broke at midday to discuss the grounds upon which the diplomatic conference could be convened.

    One of the issues in the discussion was whether the special session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) should be tasked with deciding the fate of the conference – whether it could ask for postponement, for example, after considering progress made on the text after the special session, sources told Intellectual Property Watch.

    In Morning Session, EU Dithers

    In its statement this morning, the European Union delegate said the EU was encouraged by work achieved at the last session of the SCCR. But although convergence was achieved on some issues, he said, more work needs to be done, some of which on key elements of the text. The EU, he said, “considers that it is necessary to find an agreement on some remaining key issues before a successful diplomatic conference takes place.”

    The EU welcomed the suggestion to organise a special work session in February, saying, “This session should at least establish consensus on the conditions for the making and cross border exchange of accessible format copies, technological protection measures, and compliance of contracting parties with existing international obligations.”

    The delegate said the EU was in a position to support the convening of a conference in 2013, but there is a need to assess “in the coming months whether sufficient progress has been made” for such a conference to finally take place.

    The US delegate in his statement said, “we have always said that the content of the international norms is more important to us than the form of the instrument,” adding that “over fifteen years ago the United States was at the forefront of the now roughly sixty countries that have exceptions for persons with print disabilities in their national laws.”

    “The United States joins other delegations in supporting a clear mandate for further discussions before the Diplomatic Conference to clarify and settle as many outstanding issues as possible before June,” the delegate said, and added that “we also support Member States making a final review to ensure that in our assessment we are all in a position for a successful Diplomatic Conference next summer.”

    Extensive Support for a Diplomatic Conference

    The African and Asian groups said they support a diplomatic conference in 2013. Also stating support were: the Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries, which launched the discussion in the SCCR in the first place, the Development Agenda Group, and the Least Developed Countries Group.

    The Group of Central European and Baltic States said it supports the diplomatic conference but in order to have a successful conference, remaining open questions should be settled beforehand, in particular the three-step test should be in the text, as well as commercial availability.

    A large number of individual countries concurred, such as China, Indonesia, Algeria, Mongolia, Argentina, Nigeria, Mexico, Morocco, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, Senegal and Tunisia, most of which called for calling a diplomatic conference without conditions.

    Mexican Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho said the issues at stake in the text were not political but only technical, and followed a universal rule: “there is no technical problem that does not have a solution.” There cannot be a half-measure, he said, “you convene a diplomatic conference, or you don’t.”

    Moroccan Ambassador Omar Hilal said the country submitted its candidacy to host the diplomatic conference in June. “The community has been waiting for this [treaty] for too long,” he said, adding that setting a date for a diplomatic conference would put pressure on negotiators, setting a deadline so that they come to the negotiations showing appropriate flexibility and shoulder their responsibility.

    The Marrakesh event will be a “great event” and a “cornerstone of WIPO history on working for human rights,” the delegate said, adding that WIPO is not only for patent holders and copyright holders. WIPO will be seen to be “doing something for human rights,” he said.

    Treaty advocate James Love of KEI said, “Now that WIPO has finally made the political decision to hold a diplomatic conference on a treaty, attention will shift to the outstanding issues in the negotiation. We need to avoid a complex and restrictive text, like the 1971 appendix to the Berne Convention.”

    “The text should provide for straightforward user rights, and procedures that work in both high income and low income countries,” he said. “This is a great step forward, but there is work to be done.”

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

     


    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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