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    Good Intentions Echo In Marrakesh At Start Of Negotiations On Treaty For The Blind

    Published on 18 June 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The World Intellectual Property Organization diplomatic conference expected to yield a treaty creating exceptions and limitations to copyright for the benefit of visually impaired people opened today in Marrakesh, Morocco.

    Assurances of good faith and willingness to find solutions for remaining issues were given by delegates, while WIPO Director General Francis Gurry called for unity, King Mohammed VI talked about moral obligation in a royal message, and visually impaired people called for negotiators to create history. All nonetheless agreed on the importance of the copyright system.

    The “Diplomatic Conference to conclude a Treaty to facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities” is taking place from 17-28 June in Marrakesh.

    In his opening statement, Gurry said the objective of the diplomatic conference “is relatively simple and straightforward.” It is to alleviate the “book famine” affecting visually impaired and print-disabled people.

    He cited Helen Keller, saying at la Sorbonne, in Paris in 1952, during the centennial celebration of Louis Braille’s birth, “like a magic wand, the six dots of Louis Braille have resulted in schools where embossed books, like vessels, can transport us to ports of education, libraries and all the means of expression that assure our independence.”

    The aim of the diplomatic conference, Gurry said, is to establish an enabling legal framework that will empower that magic wand.

    “We arrive in Marrakesh with a political consensus on the part of the international community to accomplish that objective,” he said, “a consensus that was already expressed in the decision to convene this diplomatic conference, but as we all know, much work needs to be done to translate that objective into a practical workable framework.”

    “That framework will of course operate in the reality of a global marketplace in which an increasing number of works are published in digital format,” he said, and added that the global digital market place “brings with it the advantage of vastly improved availability of cultural works and the disadvantage of the vastly increased vulnerability of those digital assets to misappropriation.”

    On the work of the delegates this week, he said, “The negotiators have the task on the one hand of designing a workable system that will ensure that accessible formats can be produced and exchanged across borders around the world in a simple and easy manner, and on the other hand, of providing assurances to authors and publishers that that system will not expose their assets to misuse in parallel markets that are not intended to serve the visually impaired and the print disabled.” Finding the right balance will ensure the success of the treaty, he said.

    “A successful Marrakesh treaty will not only deliver a long-awaited benefit to visually impaired people and print disabled, but also demonstrate that the multilateral system is capable of overcoming the challenges of diversity of interests and disparity of circumstances to unite around a clearly defined objective,” he concluded, calling delegates to renew the spirit of Beijing where last year they concluded the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances.

    Mustapha Khalfi, the Moroccan Minister of Communication who was elected President of the diplomatic conference, delivered a long message from King Mohamed VI (French version).

    The message underlined the fact that the future treaty would be the first WIPO treaty establishing exceptions and limitations to copyright, and the first of its kind. King Mohamed VI, in his message, called it a “historical initiative.”

    He also said that Morocco has made the rights of handicapped people part of its 2011 constitution. The international community, and WIPO members, the message said, have a moral obligation to lift all the barriers that limit access to culture, science, new technology, and information and communication for visually impaired people.

    Blind People Insist on Usable Treaty, Offer Advice

    Maryanne Diamond, immediate past president of the World Blind Union (WBU) said in her opening statement “We have been working hard towards this most important day for more than 30 years.”

    “This treaty can make a huge difference in the lives of our members. Access to education, employment, culture and recreational reading means people have choices, without these choices people are marginalised and for many that means they do not take their rightful place in their communities,” Diamond said, adding “Please remember the right to information is a human right.”

    “We cannot accept a treaty which has no substance nor can we accept a treaty that is full of bureaucratic and cumbersome requirements,” she insisted. “We cannot accept a trophy treaty that will not work in practice.”

    “When considering your proposals, changes and amendments to the text, please stop and think of what that change means on the ground to the people this treaty is about,” she pleaded with delegates, encouraging them to seek advice from the WBU “if you are not sure what the impact of a text change that you are considering will be on the ground.”

    “You have a chance to create history and to really do some good in the world for an often marginalised part of humanity. Please seize it with both hands and help us write a new chapter in the story of the inclusion of blind people in society,” she beseeched.

    Countries Call for Flexibility, Compromise

    Coordinators for the regional groups of WIPO delivering opening statements displayed good will to find necessary mutual compromise to breach remaining issues, and called for flexibility.

    Algeria on behalf of the African Group said this treaty was an opportunity to take bold measures to reach a more balanced intellectual property system. The delegate said the link between the international IP system and the effort of the international community in favour of human rights had never been so direct. The African Group, he said, recognises the importance of the international copyright system and the treaty is not calling this into question.

    The African continent as place of culture is an avid user of the copyright system, he said, and called for mutual compromise to solve “the grey area” of the text.

    Belgium, on behalf of the Group B of developed countries, said the diplomatic conference should result in a clear legal framework to facilitate access for visually impaired people and provide solutions for the specific needs of those people but also be mindful of the effective protection of the rights of creators.

    The Dominican Republic, on behalf of the Group of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), said GRULAC first introduced the issue of access for visually impaired people on the agenda of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) in 2004. The delegate encouraged countries to find points of convergence to accommodate differences in order to adopt the treaty.

     

    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.

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