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    MPAA, US Blind Federation Urge Narrow Focus In WIPO Treaty For Blind

    Published on 30 May 2013 @ 9:54 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The US film industry and advocates for the blind joined forces today to urge World Intellectual Property Organization negotiators to keep treaty talks focussed on the core issue of making more books available to the blind and visually impaired. The joint statement appeared to be aimed at reining in stakeholders on both sides of the international debate.

    “We underscore that this important Treaty must not be a vehicle for extraneous agendas. The goal remains, as it has been since the outset, a meaningful treaty to create greater access to published works for the visually impaired,” National Federation of the Blind President Marc Maurer and MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd said in a joint statement.

    At issue is a treaty on exceptions and limitations for the blind and visually impaired under negotiation at WIPO. WIPO members will gather in Marrakesh from 17-28 June to conduct a diplomatic conference – final, high-level negotiations – on the treaty.

    The two specified that the treaty should create exceptions and limitations to copyright law for printed materials to be converted into accessible formats and allow them to be shared across borders.

    “NFB and MPAA call for the WIPO VIPT negotiators to get back to basics,” they said. “We fully support a Treaty that facilitates access to published works in the form of text, notation and/or related illustrations for the blind and print disabled to address the book famine wherein the blind and print disabled have access to less than five percent of published works worldwide.” It does not appear to apply to digital copies, nor film.

    The statement called for the treaty should embody the following core principles:

    “1. Support a legally-binding access Treaty which will allow more published works to be converted into accessible formats used by the blind and print disabled.
    2. Allow those accessible copies to be shared across international borders.
    3. Take account of countries’ level of development, in line with existing international provisions.
    4. Ensure that the treaty will be fully consistent with international copyright norms.
    5. Avoid addressing extraneous copyright issues not directly related to creating greater access to published works for the blind and print disabled.”

    Extraneous Agendas?

    As to extraneous agendas, Dodd said in a press conference call that there are “two overarching notions about copyright.” That is, some have wanted to use the treaty to further their interest in having no copyright at all, while others want to “use this vehicle to add extra protections,” he said. The goal of the treaty should not be to add or eliminate copyright protection, except to allow a very specific use, he said.

    But Dodd and Maurer emphasised that the details are up to the negotiators. They should just make sure that in the end, they do not end up eroding basic international copyright law, Dodd said. Helping the blind and visually impaired is “the right thing to do,” he said.

    When asked, Dodd gave some specifics, saying that the treaty “should not undermine” technological protection measures used by copyright holders to block access to works, and also should not include mention of fair use, which under US law provides exceptions for certain uses such as libraries and journalists. These issues are “inappropriate and totally irrelevant,” he said.

    He stressed, however, the importance of inclusion of the three-step test, which creates a hurdle to using exceptions and limitations, as it is consistent with international norms. This has been a contentious issue in the WIPO negotiations.

    In the conference call, Maurer said the concern about straying from the purpose is that some people thought countries would try to use the treaty negotiation for their own purposes, and others wanted to take the treaty in other directions. The aim in the end is to have a product that is useable and not unmanageable, he said. He tried to appease the publishers, who were also on the conference call.

    “We’re not trying to take the commercial market away from the booksellers,” Maurer said. “but it cannot be so fraught with systems and checks that it is impractical” to use. He mentioned an idea that WIPO might create a system for identifying when there are books already out there for sale in a country. But there should not be so many tests that the exceptions cannot be used, he said.

    The International Publishers Association (IPA) issued a press release [pdf] last month stating its support for the treaty, as long as there is a provision protecting commercial sellers who make such works available.

    “The IPA, too, wants the visually impaired treaty to work in practice,” it said in a reaction statement [pdf] issued today. “The treaty must give blind and visually impaired persons around the world access to the special format copies of the books they want. We believe that treaty wording can be found that would fully address the concerns raised by the NFB and the MPAA in this statement.”

    At press time, the reaction of knowledge access advocates was not clear.

    Maurer told reporters that the joint statement “a tremendous move forward” toward enabling more books to be accessible to the blind and visually impaired around the world. He said he has a college and law degree and knows first-hand how difficult it is to find materials in accessible format. He also gave an anecdote that in order to help a friend obtain materials in French, Maurer had to “sneak” them out of France to the US.

    There is an “urgent need” to address the problem, Maurer said, calling it a “great joy” to have the copyright holders on board.

    Dodd told reporters that he has worked with the NFB often in his career, and the statement represents a “shared commitment.” “We’re calling on negotiators to get back to basics,” he said.

    “Now is the time to refocus on this singular objective and cull the document of extraneous issues,” the statement said. “We call on negotiators to work together, guided by the above principles, to ensure that Marrakech is a success.”

    [Correction: the original article indicated that the NFB is seeking books to be accessible at reasonable cost, but cost is not at issue as many agencies serving the blind and print-disabled throughout the world are libraries. Their focus is on access without too many burdens.]

     

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Harte Kämpfe um Ausnahmeregelungen für Blinde says:

      [...] wurden. Der Vorsitzende des Verbands und frühere US-Senator Chris Dodd nannte in einem aktuellen Pressegespräch unter anderem mögliche Aufweichungen technologischer Schutzmaßnahmen (TPM) oder des so genannten [...]

    2. Test Of Political Flexibility In Final Lap For WIPO Treaty For The Blind | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] The Motion Picture Association of America and the US National Federation of the Blind issued a joint statement on 30 May asking WIPO delegates “to get back to basics,” and in particular, “avoid addressing extraneous copyright issues not directly related to creating greater access to published works for the blind and print disabled” (IPW, WIPO, 30 May 2013). [...]


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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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