[Colorado-talk] International Copyright Concerns for Blind Readers

Frye, Dan DFrye at nfb.org
Fri May 29 19:30:56 UTC 2009


I am circulating a lengthy post regarding efforts to limit an 
international treaty that would allow for rules that parallel 
existing domestic exceptions to the copyright law for blind people to 
govern in an international context. Please help bring pressure on 
authorities by letting President Obama know that these provisions 
would be useful, and ask him to direct his representatives to abandon 
their hostile posture toward aspects of the treaty that would be 
helpful. You may Email your concerns to:

<mailto:President at whitehouse.gov>President at whitehouse.gov

The post follows:

Right now, in Geneva, at the UN's World Intellectual Property 
Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO 
history, the body that creates the world's copyright treaties is 
attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the 
interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people 
with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, 
people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages). 
This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn't want a harmonized system of 
copyright exceptions that ensure that it's possible for disabled 
people to get access to the written word?

The USA, that's who. The Obama administration'

US negotiators have joined with a rogue's gallery of rich country 
trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other 
nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include 
Canada and the EU.

Update: Also opposing rights for disabled people: Australia, New 
Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.

Activists at WIPO are desperate to get the word out. They're tweeting 
madly from the negotiation (technically called the 18th session of 
the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) publishing 
editorials on the Huffington Post, etc.

Here's where you come in: this has to get wide exposure, to get cast 
as broadly as possible, so that it will find its way into the ears of 
the obscure power-brokers who control national trade-negotiators.

I don't often ask readers to do things like this, but please, forward 
this post to people you know in the US, Canada and the EU, and ask 
them to reblog, tweet, and spread the word, especially to government 
officials and activists who work on disabled rights. We know that 
WIPO negotiations can be overwhelmed by citizen activists -- that's 
how we killed the Broadcast Treaty negotiation a few years back -- 
and with your help, we can make history, and create a world where 
copyright law protects the public interest.

I am attending a meeting in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property 
Organization (WIPO). This evening the United States government, in 
combination with other high income countries in "Group B" is seeking 
to block an agreement to discuss a treaty for persons who are blind 
or have other reading disabilities.

The proposal for a treaty is supported by a large number of civil 
society NGOs, the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the 
Blind in the US, the International DAISY Consortium, Recording for 
the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), Bookshare.Org, and groups representing 
persons with reading disabilities all around the world.

The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and 
export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in 
formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually 
impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special 
devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated 
text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to 
make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright 
law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities.


The opposition from the United States and other high income countries 
is due to intense lobbying from a large group of publishers that 
oppose a "paradigm shift,"

where treaties would protect consumer interests, rather than expand 
rights for copyright owners.

The Obama Administration was lobbied heavily on this issue, including 
meetings with high level White House officials. Assurances coming 
into the negotiations this week that things were going in the right 
direction have turned out to be false, as the United States 
delegation has basically read from a script written by lobbyists for 
publishers, extolling the virtues of market based solutions, ignoring 
mountains of evidence of a "book famine" and the insane legal 
barriers to share works.

Obama Joins Group to Block Treaty for Blind and Other Reading 
Disabilities COPYRIGHT EXCEPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS Twitter feed for #sccr18

With Kind Regards,

Daniel B. Frye, J.D.
Associate Editor
The Braille Monitor
National Federation of the Blind
Office of the President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
Telephone: (410) 659-9314 Ext. 2208
Mobile: (410) 241-7006
Fax: (410) 685-5653
Email: <mailto:DFrye at nfb.org>DFrye at nfb.org
Web Address: <http://www.nfb.org/>www.nfb.org
"Voice of the Nation's Blind"

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