blind_html more Obama-Nations!

  • From: "The Elf" <inthaneelf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 15:36:37 -0700

    read and do what you can folks, if we want to be able to read things in the 

Begin forwarded message:


Subject: Cory Doctorow: USA, Canada and the EU attempt to kill treaty to 
protect blind people's access to written material

Reply-To: Manon Ress <manon.ress@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

USA, Canada and the EU attempt to kill treaty to protect blind people's access 
to written material

Posted by Cory Doctorow, May 29, 2009 1:52 AM

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's 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 

   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 

   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


Twitter feed for #sccr18


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  • » blind_html more Obama-Nations! - The Elf