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    Developing Countries Lack Capacity To Take Advantage Of Marrakesh Treaty

    Published on 18 December 2013 @ 12:00 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The 2013 Marrakesh Treaty has been applauded by beneficiaries throughout the world for answering the need for wider access to special format works for visually impaired people. However, the path to its implementation, even after it is ratified by enough countries, appears to be strewn with difficulties in developing countries, which will need capacity-building, according to a speaker at a discussion panel organised today by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

    The WIPO secretariat, in order to facilitate the implementation of the treaty, will organise events alongside the next sessions of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), covering a different topic at each session. This week’s topic was “Authorized Entities – Agents for Accessibility,” according to the secretariat.

    The SCCR is meeting from 16-20 December.

    The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled was adopted in June (IPW, WIPO, 26 June 2013).

    Under the treaty, the supply of books should be done through authorised entities. An authorised entity, as defined by the treaty is found in Article 2 (Definitions): “(c) ‘authorized entity’ means an entity that is authorized or recognized by the government to provide education, instructional training, adaptive reading or information access to beneficiary persons on a non-profit basis. It also includes a government institution or non-profit organization that provides the same services to beneficiary persons as one of its primary activities or institutional obligations.”

    Authorised entities should also answer to several criteria:

    “An authorized entity establishes and follows its own practices:

    (i) to establish that the persons it serves are beneficiary persons;

    (ii) to limit to beneficiary persons and/or authorized entities its distribution and making available of accessible format copies;

    (iii) to discourage the reproduction, distribution and making available of unauthorized copies; and
    (iv) to maintain due care in, and records of, its handling of copies of works, while respecting the privacy of beneficiary persons in accordance with Article 8.”

    Efficient Service for the Blind in Canada

    Margaret McGrory, vice president and executive director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Library, presented the functioning of the library, which acts as an authorised entity, and the services provided to Canadian visually impaired people.

    Similar in many ways to other libraries, the CNIB library, the largest public library of this type, has particular features, she said. Some 3.4 million Canadians are print disabled, she said, about 10 percent of the population.

    CNIB offers a number of services such as a reader advisory service and adaptive technology support. In 2012, the library circulated some 2.6 million books, magazines and newspapers, she explained. CNIB also produces all alternative format of books, either from scratch or by getting them from other producers, according to McGrory.

    McGrory said she participated in the WIPO-initiated TIGAR project, under the WIPO multi-stakeholders platform. The TIGAR project aims to facilitate cross-border access for visually impaired people to “copyrighted works in accessible formats in a reasonable time frame,” according to the TIGAR webpage.

    A Number of Challenges in Developing Countries

    For Dipendra Manocha, developing country coordinator for the DAISY Consortium, a global consortium of organizations working on improving ways to read, which is also involved in the TIGAR Project, the vision of a very efficient CNIB library cannot be compared to the conditions on the ground in developing countries.

    A number of challenges, some of which could be alleviated through capacity building, are hindering the process of providing access to special format works to visually impaired people, he said.

    In particular, the first requirement for an authorised entity is to be able to demonstrate that beneficiaries are print disabled. A recent visit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, he said, showed that libraries serving the print disabled do not have registries, and no adequate process for registering beneficiaries, he said. Neither are they able to maintain records of transactions showing who received the books and how many copies they received, he said.

    Authorised entities also need training to work with the files they receive, for example from publishers through the TIGAR system, he said. They need to be able to transform those files into the exact format or copy them on the right medium. Libraries for visually impaired persons in developing countries are often primarily manned by volunteers, he explained.

    Missions in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Namibia revealed a number of practical challenges, he said, among which is the fact that in most developing countries, publishers and the visually impaired communities do not communicate and publishers are unaware of the needs of blind people.

    Another challenge is that the local language fonts used in digital files of books are not Unicode compliant (The Unicode Standard “provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language,” according to the Unicode Consortium webpage). This leads to problems with computer reading software. “It is a disastrous situation,” Manocha said.

    Yet other issues include the book delivery infrastructure being fragmented and resulting in the duplication of books, and the technology gap. In India, he said, there are 22 official languages but “text to speech” exists only for two of them, he said. Finally, the affordability of the technology remains a problem for developing country visually impaired users who need special tools, such as DAISY players.

    Nevertheless, Manocha said the time ahead looks very exciting for developing countries, in particular in the context of the Marrakesh Treaty.

    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.

    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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