WIPO Treaty For Blind Negotiation Set For Mid-June In Marrakesh

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After successfully agreeing to convene a high-level meeting in June to adopt a treaty creating copyright exceptions in the favour of visually impaired people, World Intellectual Property Organization delegates yesterday worked on modalities of the upcoming diplomatic conference.

The draft report [pdf] of the Preparatory Committee of the Diplomatic Conference meeting was issued on 18 December and adopted swiftly, with minor changes.

The preparatory committee agreed that the diplomatic conference will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco from 16-30 June 2013.

The elected president of the preparatory committee held on 18 December was Amb. Darlington Mwape of Zambia, who is chair of the Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights (SCCR). Two vice-presidents were elected also: Gunseli Güven from Turkey, and Deng Yuhua from China. The preparatory committee is expected to meet again after the next SCCR meeting in February.

Mwape told Intellectual Property Watch that remaining items still open on modalities will be discussed at the next session of the preparatory meeting, after the special session of the SCCR arranged from 18-22 February to expedite the drafting process. Those are minor issues, he said, such as on the title of the treaty, the number of member countries to have ratified the treaty before its entry into force, and the conditions for eligibility to become a contracting party to the treaty.

During the meeting, delegates agreed on all but one of the draft rules of procedures [pdf], according to the report.

The remaining item is rule 1 (1) on the objective of the conference. The text of rule 1 (1), as shown in the report, (note: the edited version has not been issued, only the summary of the report that mentions changes) shows brackets around the title of the treaty. A proposal was made to replace the bracketed title of the treaty, according to the report, using the 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 impaired persons/persons with print disabilities.” In the draft rules it says: “treaty to facilitate access to published works by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.”

In rule 13 (2) of the draft rules, on the formation of the drafting committee, the number of elected members composing the drafting committee has been increased from 12 to 15, according to the draft report.

Delegations in the preparatory committee also considered draft administrative provisions [pdf] and final clauses of the treaty. According to the draft report, those administrative provisions and final clauses were approved after amendment or bracketing for further discussion:

On page 5 of the draft administrative provisions, the article on the eligibility for becoming party to the treaty needs to be further discussed. According to sources, Japan proposed that a mention be added after “any member state of WIPO,” to say, “that is also a Member of the Berne Union or a party to the Agreement on Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).” Sources said that some countries, such as Iran, which is not party to either agreement, were concerned by this additional text.

On page 6, according to the report, the article of the article on “obligations under the treaty” will be changed to “rights and obligations under the treaty.” In the same article, which read: “Subject to any specific provisions to the contrary in this Treaty, each Contracting Party shall assume all of the obligations under this Treaty,” it now reads  “Subject to any specific…shall enjoy all the rights and assume all…Treaty.”

On page 8, in the article concerning the entry into force of the treaty,  the entry into force was established as of three months after 20 eligible parties have ratified the treaty. The number 20 will be bracketed, as well as the word “parties.”

On page 9, in the article on the effective date of becoming party to the treaty, the same number and word will be bracketed as in the article on page 8 above. None of the articles of the draft administrative provision are numbered yet.

The preparatory committee also considered the list of invitees [pdf] to the diplomatic conference and the texts of the draft letters of invitation, said the report, listing additional invitees such as the National Federation of the Blind, Chief Officers of the State Library Agencies, the American Library Association, and the Technical and Medical Publishers. Member delegations are allowed to provide additional names of organisations not included in the draft list.

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

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