[nfb-talk] Fw: [BlindLikeMe] Copyright Treaty Backing E-Books Survives Resistance From US and EU

Sherri flmom2006 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 10 18:47:17 UTC 2009

I don't understand why the U.S. opposes this policy. Guess they don't want 
blind people to read.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Claudia" <cdelreal1973 at sbcglobal.net>
To: <our-safe-haven at googlegroups.com>; 
<makinghouseworkeasier at googlegroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2009 6:15 PM
Subject: Fw: [BlindLikeMe] Copyright Treaty Backing E-Books Survives 
Resistance From US and EU

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: Victor
> To: Blind Like Me Listserv
> Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 4:52 AM
> Subject: [BlindLikeMe] Copyright Treaty Backing E-Books Survives 
> Resistance
> From US and EU
> Cross-Border Sharing of Books for Disabled Users Survives Resistance From
> the EU and US
> Copyright treaty backing e-books for disabled readers survives US and EU
> resistance
> Copyright treaty backing e-books for disabled readers survives US and EU
> resistance
> OUT-LAW News, 03/06/2009
> A proposed treaty that would change copyright laws to allow the supply of
> books across borders for the benefit of blind people has survived 
> resistance
> from the US, UK, France, Germany and other countries.
> A committee of the World Intellectual Property Organisation agreed on 
> Friday
> "to continue without delay" its work on "facilitating the access of blind,
> visually-impaired and other reading-disabled persons to 
> copyright-protected
> works."
> At the heart of this work is a treaty proposed by the charitable
> organisation World Blind Union (WBU) and written with the help of the UK's
> Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) .
> RNIB campaign manager Dan Pescod attended the five-day meeting in Geneva.
> Pescod told OUT-LAW today that the UK and the US were among a group of
> countries that did not support the treaty and preferred 'soft options',
> though they stopped short of formally opposing it.
> Around 95% of books are never published in any format other than standard
> print, according to the WBU. But visually impaired people need books in
> other formats, such as large print, Braille and audio. People with other
> disabilities, such as cognitive impairments, can also find themselves 
> 'print
> disabled'.
> "Imagine if you walked into a bookshop or library, and were told that you
> were only allowed to choose from five percent of the books on the shelf,"
> said WBU president Dr William Rowland in a speech last year. "What would
> such a limited choice do to your education, to your leisure reading
> opportunities?"
> The WBU, RNIB and others have prepared a draft treaty that would relax
> copyright restrictions to allow the creation and supply of accessible 
> books
> without the need for prior permission from the copyright owner. The treaty
> requires this generally to be done on a non-profit basis.
> In some countries, it is already legal to create accessible books without
> permission. It was made legal in the UK by the Copyright (Visually 
> Impaired
> Persons) Act, passed in 2002. But that law is limited in scope. The rights
> are limited to visually-impaired persons - so while a person with dyslexia
> might benefit from a large-print book, or an electronic book which can be
> played using text-to-speech conversion software, the law does not 
> facilitate
> that person.
> Also, the UK law, like equivalent laws in other countries, does not allow
> the supply of a digital book to a customer overseas.
> The WBU treaty, if signed and ratified in its present form, would lift 
> these
> restrictions. It seeks to protect all 'reading disabled' persons and it
> allows the supply across borders of accessible works, as a Braille hard 
> copy
> or as an e-book. At present, a tiny fraction of books that are available 
> in
> accessible formats can be supplied across borders because their export
> requires the agreement of rights holders.
> Pescod said publishers have until recently seen little money to be made 
> from
> converting books into accessible formats, meaning that the work is 
> normally
> done by voluntary organisations like RNIB.
> "If we make an accessible version of a book in the UK and want to send 
> that
> to another English-speaking country where they don't have the resources to
> make books accessible, we should be able to do that," he said. "But the
> copyright law as it stands doesn't allow the transfer of that accessible
> info. The exceptions in place in national legislations stop at the 
> border."
> The preamble to the treaty notes that "90 percent of visually-impaired
> persons live in countries of low or moderate incomes." These countries 
> tend
> to have the most limited ranges of accessible works, hence the need for a
> right to supply across borders.
> Pescod said that voluntary organisations in Chile, Columbia, Mexico,
> Nicaragua and Uruguay have only 8,517 books in alternative formats between
> them. However, Argentina has 63,000 books and Spain 102,000. All these
> countries speak Spanish. . Spain and Argentina will not share their
> libraries with their Latin American colleagues, though, for fear of 
> breaking
> copyright laws, he said.
> The proposed treaty would also allow for the circumvention of digital 
> rights
> management (DRM) where necessary to render a work accessible. Some books 
> are
> published in a digital format that is not compatible with the assistive
> technologies used by disabled people.
> Lobbying for legislative change in the UK, the RNIB noted recently that 
> schemes "can react to assistive technology as if it were an illicit
> operation." It also said that "while e-book readers may have the facility 
> to
> reproduce synthetic speech, the rights holder can apply a level of 
> security
> which prevents this from working."
> The WBU treaty would allow a company to buy an e-book, hack the DRM and
> redistribute a DRM-free version of the work, provided copies are supplied
> exclusively for disabled customers.
> Pescod said that main objective of RNIB and the WBU for the week was to 
> have
> the treaty formally proposed within the WIPO committee. Their second
> objective was to have it accepted as a viable proposal. "These were met," 
> he
> said. "Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay tabled the treaty as a proposal."
> That put the treaty before WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and
> Related Rights. It was strongly supported by delegates representing South
> American, African and Asian countries. "India and China were particularly
> supportive," said Pescod. Wealthier countries, it seems, were less
> enthusiastic.
> "Many publishers and rights holders and some states say we need a 'soft'
> solution," said Pescod. "RNIB should work with rights holders and others 
> to
> resolve this, they say."
> Pescod said these groups want a 'stakeholder platform' to discuss the
> sharing of files, but not a treaty. "We're more than happy to speak," he
> said. "But where we part company is that the stakeholder platform is 
> looking
> at one set of solutions only." It would address some technical challenges,
> he said; but it would not address other issues, including the production 
> of
> unprofitable Braille works, or the extra work needed to describe images.
> "We're insisting that you need to work with rights holders - and we'll
> continue to do that - but we still need a treaty which would do three
> things: encourage national copyright exceptions for disabled people in all
> countries; allow transfer of accessible books in all countries; and allow
> tightening of rules on DRM systems that can block accessibility."
> "No country opposed the proposal [for a treaty] outright," said Pescod.
> "Those who wanted to suggest that they weren't happy with it used more 
> coded
> language, like saying discussions were 'premature' or that they wanted to
> take it back home and discuss it [at a national level]."
> The published conclusions of the committee include the unattributed
> objection "that deliberations regarding any instrument would be 
> premature."
> "Those attacking this [treaty] fear it is going to undermine copyright 
> law,"
> he said. "We disagree completely. Ensuring access for a bunch of people 
> who
> the market was not selling to in the first place doesn't undermine 
> copyright
> law."
> "This whole idea that it's 'premature' is bizarre," he said. "A WIPO and
> UNESCO working group looked at this in 1982. If that's premature, at what
> point does it become mature and ready to go?"
> Pescod said that support for the stakeholder platform instead of a treaty 
> is
> coming only from those who are not disabled. "They're not blind and they
> know better? I would question that," he said.
> The UK was represented in two capacities: as a member of the European 
> Union
> and as a member of the so-called 'Group B' countries, a WIPO term that
> refers to 17 EU member states, the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, New
> Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the Vatican. Neither the EU nor Group B
> representatives supported the proposal. "Both are sceptical," said Pescod.
> According to another meeting attendee, James Love of Knowledge Ecology
> International, a group that promotes access to knowledge, the opposition
> from the US 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."
> Ville Oksanen, a member of European digital rights group EDRi said Group B
> and the EU "did their best to derail the process of getting the treaty 
> under
> serious consideration." He described the given reasons as "rather
> perplexing" and described them as excuses designed to avoid being seen as
> opposing help for disabled people.
> "It remains to be seen how sceptical they will be next time," said Pescod.
> "At the end of the day, though, we are happy with the way things went."
> On Friday night the WIPO copyright committee reached agreement to discuss
> the treaty at its next meeting in November, in spite of the objections. In
> the meantime, the committee's conclusions note that "Member States will
> continue to consult on these issues at national level and report on the
> activities and views on possible solutions."
> James Love is confident that the treaty will make progress.
> "Group B came in the May [copyright committee] meeting to block any
> agreement to discuss a treaty," he told OUT-LAW. "We'll be back in 
> November,
> discussing a treaty. The members of Group B will not be able to 
> consistently
> avoid dealing with the treaty proposal. They will have to say yes or no in
> terms of moving this forward, and to explain why."
> "The core issue will be, what will it take to liberalize the cross-border
> movement of accessible works created under copyright limitations and
> exceptions?" said Love. "Given how harsh the access reality is for people
> who are blind or have other reading disabilities, Group B cannot long 
> avoid
> addressing this topic. There will be more and more data, and fewer and 
> fewer
> chances to claim strategic ignorance." <
> http://www.out-law.com/page-10059
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