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    WIPO To Negotiate Treaty For The Blind In June; ‘Still Some Distance To Travel’

    Published on 18 December 2012 @ 2:55 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    In a swift 15 minute session this morning delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization extraordinary assembly agreed to convene a high-level meeting in Morocco in June to finalise a treaty on international exceptions to copyrights on books in special formats for visually impaired people.

    After long informal discussions yesterday with the assembly chair, Ambassador Uglješa Zvekić of Serbia, the decision document [pdf] was issued this morning.

    WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said, “It is a great decision. Of course we are all aware that there is still some distance to travel before we have a treaty, but this decision, I think, places us one further step along the road and in a very good position to be able to deliver the objective, namely a very positive outcome of this exercise, with a good treaty that improves the situation of visually impaired persons and the print disabled.”

    The General Assembly decided that a diplomatic conference should be convened in June 2013, in Morocco, with a mandate to negotiate and conclude a treaty.

    Furthermore, the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will meet in a special session for five days in February to expedite further text-based work on the draft treaty, document SCCR/25/2 [pdf] “in order to reach sufficient level of agreement on the text.”

    The assembly also directs “the Preparatory Committee to meet at the end of the February SCCR meeting to decide, if needed whether additional work is required with the objective of holding a successful Conference in June 2013,” the decision says. It also states that the preparatory committee will invite observers.

    The assembly decision has five paragraphs. With respect to paragraph 4 of the decision (on the special work session in February), Zvekić said, “we agreed to state for the record that in this paragraph, the phrase ‘additional work’ means additional work by either the SCCR or the preparatory committee, so that the preparatory committee can decide that either itself, the SCCR, or both may have additional work to do in order to prepare a revised text for the diplomatic conference.”

    Document SCCR/25/2, which contains the draft articles as approved by the last SCCR session in November, “will constitute the substantive articles of the Basic Proposal for the Diplomatic Conference,” the decision says, “with the understanding that any Member State and the special delegation of the European Union may make proposals at the Diplomatic Conference.”

    The assembly also established a preparatory committee, which met at the close of the assembly this morning to work on modalities of the diplomatic conference, such as the draft rules of procedure, the list of states and organisations to be invited, and the agenda, dates, venue and other organisational questions.

    Blue Sky with Some Clouds

    The new consensus on a diplomatic conference and on a legally binding treaty to create exceptions and limitations to copyright for the benefit of visually impaired people cannot eclipse the fact that the draft text still reflects profound divisions between countries.

    In February, delegates will have to tackle remaining issues, such as the inclusion of the three step test and commercial availability, on which they currently are at a standstill. Both inclusions are favoured by developed countries, in an effort to protect their right holders.

    Yesterday morning, the delegation of Barbados said the treaty should be effective, and “while acknowledging the importance of safeguards,” it is important that “provisions in the text would not unduly restrict authorised entities from making accessible formats available under national law exceptions.”

    “Provisions should not render the text nugatory through exposing authorised entities to possible liability and making their work administratively burdensome,” the delegate said.

    In a press release [doc] issued today by the World Blind Union (WBU), Maryanne Diamond, leader of the WBU Right To Read campaign, said, “The decision of the WIPO Extraordinary General Assembly today is a very significant milestone on the road to a treaty. It means governments have kept the work on track to agree a binding and effective treaty in 2013, which if completed would allow blind people to access many thousands more books.”

    “The work is far from over, though. We urge all parties to now negotiate a simple, binding and effective treaty. A good treaty will really help us to end the book famine in which only some one to seven percent of books are ever made accessible to us,” the release said.

    Rahul Cherian, from Indian WBU member Inclusive Planet, also said in the release that “the objective of this treaty must be that of helping blind and print disabled people to get accessible format books, especially in developing countries. To achieve this goal, it must be workable and simply worded so that blind and print disabled people and their organisations can use it to really make a difference.”

    Currently in many countries, copyright law prevents charities from making accessible copies of books, and from sending them to others in countries speaking the same language, the release said. “The WIPO treaty sought by the World Blind Union would remove these copyright barriers and open up a new world of reading to blind people.”

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

     

    Comments

    1. WIPO Treaty For Blind Negotiation Set For Mid-June In Marrakech, Chaired By Mwape | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] terminology of paragraph 1 of the General Assembly decision of earlier in the day of 18 December (IPW, WIPO, 18 December 2012). In the decision, the text refers to “a treaty on limitations and exceptions for visually [...]

    2. WIPO Treaty For Blind Negotiation Set For Mid-June In Marrakech says:

      [...] terminology of paragraph 1 of the General Assembly decision of earlier in the day of 18 December (IPW, WIPO, 18 December 2012). In the decision, the text refers to “a treaty on limitations and exceptions for visually [...]


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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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