[Nfbmo] Text article resent: US government lobbying against accessible formattreaty
DanFlasar at aol.com
DanFlasar at aol.com
Sun Jun 20 13:48:04 UTC 2010
I'm not sure what the problem reading the link was but I've extracted
the text from the link below for easier
It's posted below.,
On Monday June 21, 2010, the World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO) will consider whether to adopt a work program on a
for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Behind the scenes,
Obama Administration has been trying to scuttle the treaty, pressuring
countries to abandon support for the treaty, and proposing an alternative
treaty that would do almost nothing to expand access to copyrighted
The recent U.S. actions against the treaty are orchestrated by the United
Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency headed by David Kappos.
There are now many promising technologies to expand access for people who
blind or have other disabilities. Digital works delivered over the
through cell phones can be accessed with refreshable braille readers,
synthetic text to speech, or in other ways, It is often expensive to take
and other copyrighted works created in inaccessible formats, and to make
versions that are accessible, and also easy to navigate and use. (See the
of the DAISy Consortium).
The United States spends tens of millions of dollars annually to create
accessible versions of copyrighted works, and despite this investment, at
only about 5 percent of published books are accessible, and far fewer
periodicals and informal publications protected by copyright. Most of the
in the U.S. is done under the Chafee Amendment -- an exception to the
copyright owners. According to WIPO, 57 countries have similar exceptions.
actual details of the exceptions vary considerably from country to
the majority of developing countries have no exceptions for persons
The United States, like most other countries, will not export its
formats of works to other countries. The U.S. does not export to Canada,
Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa, England, Australia, India or the many
where people speak English as a second language. Spanish speaking
not share accessible works with each other. Each country pretty much has
create its own separate libraries for the blind. This inefficient legal
has contributed to an extreme scarcity of accessible works for persons
disabilities, particularly in developing countries. Uruguay, for example,
only produce about 50 new accessible works per year.
For more than 25 years, the World Blind Union, the International
Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and others have pressed WIPO
create an enabling legal environment for the sharing of accessible works
borders. This involves two things -- agreements on the rules for importing
exporting works, and some harmonization of the exceptions themselves. To
end, a strong treaty proposal was introduced in WIPO in 2009, by Brazil,
and Paraguay,now joined by Mexico.
Publishers have opposed the treaty. At first the U.S. opposed discussion
the treaty, but seemed to have changed its position in December of 2009.
more recently things have changed again, and not for the better. What
Kappos recently described as a "breakthrough" in the negotiations is a
described "consensus" proposal that seems to have no consensus, and
of a weak recommendation that countries consider authorizing exports of
under a new regulatory regime designed by publishers.
The USTPO has been lobbying developing countries to abandon the more
and important treaty proposal, and reportedly falsely claiming to have the
support of blindness groups in the United States for doing so.
What changed? Three important things.
Ronald Kirk, head of USTR
In 2009, Susan Crawford worked in the White House, and was an important
supporter of the treaty. Susan left the White House staff at the end of
Lobbied by Publishers, including the (AAP), the MPAA, RIIA, SIIA and IIPA,
Ambassador Ronald Kirk, has weighed in against the treaty.
Justin Hughes, the head of the US delegation to WIPO, has become a
to replace Marybeth Peters, as the new Register of Copyrights for the
of Congress. Hughes does not want to alienate the AAP, MPAA, RIIA, SIIA
On Monday, four days of negotiations on this issue begin. Blindness and
disabilities groups are being asked to lower expectations, and accept
smaller, and less important, than what they need and what should should
I'm frankly embarrassed that my own government is not providing more
on this issue of human rights and social justice. I expected more out of
USPTO under David Kappos.
The situation in Europe is also depressing. After a long period of
and then indifference to the Treaty proposal, the European Union has
own alternative. How weak it it? Among other things, it requires the
of copyright owners to share works under exceptions to copyright laws.
Why are the publishers and their responsive friends in the US and EU
so opposed the efforts to create strong global exceptions for persons who
disabilities? They are afraid this will set a precedent for other global
exceptions, in areas where the markets are significant, like education.
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