[Nfbmo] International copyright concerns for blind folks.

Fred goodfolks at charter.net
Sat May 30 00:09:35 UTC 2009

I was sent this note and asked to post it to the list. It relates to the 
previous posting on this topic.

Fred Olver

 President Obama,
    Even given that I was a supporter of your candidacy for the US
presidency, I have been very impressed with your nuanced and
intelligent leadership on the many extraordinary challenges
facing the US and the world.  I am very dismayed, though, to find out
that your administration is supporting modifications to the
international copyright law that would close off access to books for the
the blind of the world - and in particular in the US.  There are some
15 million Americans who cannot, for various reasons, read printed
matter.  We are dependent upon government (the NLS talking
Books program), NGOs (Bookshare, RFB&D and variouslocal organizations)
and very expensive software to gain the same access to books, magazines
and literature that any other American enjoys.
       Please review the US stance which would only benefit the large
publishing houses, who have already staked out a position against blind
access to books on the Amazon Kindle.   Please note that as the population 
ages, there will be a great porportion and absolute number of US and world 
citizens who will begin to lose their vision due
to macular degeneration, diabetes, high blood pressure,
Glaucoma and other ophthalmic disorders.   I lost most of my central=2
vision in 1994 secondary to renal failure.  Instead of losing my
position as a clinical research analyst due to lack of access
to needed information, I was able to maintain my employment through the
use of the above-named organizations and software. Over those years
I've provided many hours advising people in the
early stages of blindness on the many resources available to them.  I
can tellyou that it has made a huge difference in their lives.  Instead
of living in dark isolation, they realize that they can still read.
     However, even with current resources, we still don't have the same
wide-ranging access to books and periodicals that sighted people have.
The new treaty could vastly help with this by preserving and
expanding exceptions to copyright laws for blind and disabled users.
       In an age when technology has helped us make great inroads into
accessibility, please don't place the US on the side of those who would
halt our progress by eliminating this essential exception for
the disabled.
    Please let me know if I can be of further help,


Daniel R. Flasar
1178 Claytonia Terrace
Richmond Heights, MO  63117
danflasar at aol.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Frye, Dan <
DFrye at nfb.org>
david.andrews at nfbnet.org
Sent: Fri, 29 May 2009 2:30 pm
Subject: [Nfbmo] International Copyright Concerns for Blind Readers


I am circulating a lengthy post regardin
g 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

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 =0
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 t
his 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

Obama Joins Group to Block Treaty for Blind and Other Reading

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: <
"Voice of the Nation's Blind"
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