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    WIPO VIP Treaty: Opening Statements Lay Out Differences

    Published on 20 June 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    Displays of good intentions peppered the two first days of World Intellectual Property Organization negotiations on a treaty facilitating access to books for visually impaired people. However, countries pleading for flexibility reaffirmed their previous positions. Developed countries seeking to preserve the international copyright system, and developing countries assuring that the treaty is not jeopardising this system.

    The WIPO diplomatic conference is taking place from 17-28 June in Marrakesh, Morocco. Long opening statements, which spanned across almost two days, were delivered by a number of country delegates, some of them blind. Some of them detailed national legislation adopted in their countries to include people with disabilities such as visual impairment, into the community, facilitating their access to health, education and employment.

    Developing Countries: Treaty No Threat to Copyright System

    Most of developing countries that took the floor deflected the suspicion that the treaty might weaken the well-established copyright system. India cited the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Article 7 on objectives. This article establishes that IP rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation to the mutual advantage of producers and users and in “a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.” India called for a balanced treaty.

    Developing countries also mentioned the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in particular Article 30 (Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport). Brazil, for example, said in its opening statement [pdf] that in 2008, the country ratified the convention and that “This was the first human rights treaty approved in the country with the status of a constitutional amendment.”

    The treaty, Brazil said, “should not expand nor reduce the obligations and rights that already exist in the international copyright system. On the contrary, the agreement has been constructed in harmony with the universally recognised right of authors over the products of their work in a balanced and socially fair manner.”

    Also of concern is the inclusion of new “conditionalities” creating additional barriers to the production and circulation of works in accessible formats, in particular in the context of Article D (Cross-border exchange of accessible format copies), the delegate said, adding that this topic represents the “major added value” of the treaty.

    On 19 June, a text was issued in Committee I, in charge of proposing text to the plenary on Article D (IPW, WIPO, 19 June 2013). Work during the diplomatic conference is being carried out in several committees, Committee I is in charge of proposing text for adoption by the plenary.

    “We believe that the international copyright regime is sufficiently mature, both technically and politically, to respond to the challenge of the ‘book famine’ without implying a risk to its capacity to protect the interests of rights holders,” the delegate said, adding ” We are not in a commercial negotiation, where a dynamic of bargaining is established in which countries make concessions in exchange for certain benefits.”

    Developing Country Views; Is Treaty Non-Binding for LDCs?

    Some countries expressed worries about the work remaining to be done on the text and the time left to do so, such as Peru and Singapore, which also said that the outcome of the negotiations is important for WIPO’s role in norm-setting and would reflect on the efficiency of multilateral diplomacy.

    Peru added that the IP system is not only a key instrument fostering innovation and economic development, but also provides the necessary flexibilities to balance rights and obligations between rights holders and beneficiaries.

    [line removed]

    The delegate from Iran said that his country not only supports the current treaty being negotiated but also believes that the exercise of existing limitations and exceptions should be extended to access to copyrighted works for educational and research purposes. Other international treaties need to be developed to provide exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, which are institutions with a public function.

    The delegate from Bangladesh said in his statement that for least-developed countries, “intellectual property is yet to prove to be a consistent method for development as IP could not develop beneficially in these countries due to a host of historical reasons.”

    “The existing global IP regime,” he said, “did not uniformly benefit all the states in the same way,” adding that all multilateral fora have recognised that LDCs “will be exempted from any binding commitment.”

    “The recent decision of the TRIPS Council of WTO to extend the transition period for the LDCs was another example in this regard. In the same vein, we will mention here that LDCs will not be subject to any binding conditionality under this treaty also,” he said (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 12 June 2013).

    Developed Countries

    Australia said the treaty should reduce “unreasonable barriers in copyright law” for visually impaired persons but should also be consistent with existing copyright treaties “which provide for economic and moral rights for copyright owners.” The treaty should not “hinder development of new business models and technological advances for commercial distribution to improve accessibility for visually impaired persons,” the delegate said.

    The US delegates said that in 2012, President Obama delivered a statement in favour of an international instrument ensuring that copyright is not a barrier to equal access to information, culture, and education for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. The statement was a joint statement with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The US reaffirms this commitment, the delegate said.

    Improving access to visually impaired people is an issue of the highest priority for US, committing to combatting the book famine, he said. While contours of the future system are in place, he added, some critical and challenging issues must be resolved in particular the issue of the relationship of this agreement with the existing framework of copyright treaties.

     

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

     


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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.

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