[CEUD-ICT] Miracle In Marrakesh: "Historic" Treaty For Visually Impaired Agreed

Gerry Ellis gerry.ellis at feelthebenefit.com
Wed Jun 26 19:15:48 IST 2013


It is not often that we can say this, but this news is truly hostoric!

The real test remains to see how many countries will ratify the treaty.
However, people who I have spoken with who were involved with it over
several years thought that they would never achieve a text that was
acceptable to both sides.

Take care,

Gerry Ellis

If you don't know where you're going,
How will you know when you get there?

Miracle In Marrakesh: "Historic" Treaty For Visually Impaired Agreed 
Published on 26 June 2013 @ 3:26 am 
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
Marrakesh, Morocco - The mood was one of celebration at the Marrakesh Palais
des Congrès to greet the success of World Intellectual Property Organization
negotiators in their attempt to produce a draft treaty text showing
consensus. After a difficult start to the week, delegates achieved success
and the corridors of the conference centre echoed with laughter and
congratulations. Tears of joy were shed as most celebrated this as an
historic agreement. Visually impaired people and civil society supporting
them were ecstatic, some said overwhelmed. 
The final informal consolidation draft text
opted-Draft-Treaty-June-2013.pdf>  [pdf] was issued late at night, and all
articles were adopted by a full room of delegates. The text is now off to
the drafting committee which will ensure that all different language
versions are consistent and compatible.
WIPO members are meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 17-28 June to finalise
a treaty on limitations and exceptions to copyright for blind and visually
impaired persons, allowing them better cross-border access to books. 
For the visually impaired community, this is seen as nothing short of a
miracle. After 10 days of hard negotiations, Dan Pescod, who leads the World
Blind Union's European campaign for the treaty, confessing exhaustion, told
Intellectual Property Watch before the text was available "part of me wants
to see the text in front of me and part of me feels this is an historic day
many years in the making."
Maryanne Diamond, immediate past president of the World Blind Union, told
Intellectual Property Watch that all issues that mattered for blind people
had been addressed. "We are still in shock," she said, adding "this is the
beginning of changing the world for blind people."
Pablo Lecuona from the Latin American Blind Union said that for the past
five years the blind community had been pushing for recognition of the
problem of access to books for visually impaired people. "Now we have a
treaty," he told Intellectual Property Watch, but said they have further
work, which is the ratification and the implementation of this treaty so
that it is an effective tool so that blind people can access more books.
"I am overwhelmed. It was so hard and it should not have been so hard," said
Jamie Love, a strong supporter of the treaty. "It took five years of hard
work when it could have been much quicker but people really changed their
mind when they met blind people. You could see a change in attitude in
delegates," he said.
"The European Union and the United States delegates found a way to push back
on industry lobbying," he told Intellectual Property Watch, and even within
industry, he added, there was a change of attitude, with some lobbyists
pushing back hardliners.
Jim Fruchterman, the head of Benetech, which runs Bookshare, a digital
platform providing special format books for visually impaired people, said,
"We are extremely excited about the treaty. We have the technology and we
have the content, now we have a legal regime to make it possible for every
person with print disabilities on the planet to get access to the books they
need for education, employment, and social inclusion."
Delegates Displaying Glee
The level of enthusiasm was the same among delegates, whether from
developed, developing or least-developed countries.
Justin Hughes, a US delegate, told Intellectual Property Watch, "It was a
pleasure to work with Brazil, and the European Union, and Mexico in the
early days to try to get the first collaborative text together. Obviously it
feels wonderful to see that text come to fruition."
Another representative of Group B developed countries said that the text was
balanced, as a European Union delegate said, "Everybody is very happy, very
satisfied." A delegate of the African Group said, "It is a miracle."
In a rare occurrence, all delegations, as well as civil society, celebrated
in unison a treaty characterised as serving human rights.
The enthusiasm was not as marked on the side of publishers. A source from
the publishing industry told Intellectual Property Watch that the text was
"pretty balanced" and that "there was something in it for everyone." Visibly
the text is not to their full satisfaction, but most interviewed said they
were happy for visually impaired people.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told observers that the treaty had been
driven by nongovernmental organisations and it was not only a treaty, but a
good treaty. He extended "his profound thanks" for what he describes as "a
truly historic result."
"It is a great thing for WIPO, for intellectual property, for the
multilateral system, but above all, for visually impaired persons," Gurry
said. He was greeted by sustained applause. Participants widely praised the
work of the WIPO secretariat.
After a difficult beginning of the week when progress was very limited on
issues on which delegations stood firm, relief first came last Saturday when
agreement was reached on the three-step test and the so-called Berne gap
(IPW, WIPO, 24 June 2013
-step-test-in-treaty-for-blind/> ).
Agreement on Tough Issues
Since then, there was mounting pressure to find agreement and the visually
impaired representatives grew worried about the nature of the treaty. Among
the issues remaining to be resolved as recently as yesterday were commercial
availability, right of distribution to individuals, and right of
The issue of commercial availability, longstanding and pugnacious, was
solved yesterday. Visually impaired people and developing countries wanted
it out of the treaty, publishers and developed countries wanted it in.
Finally, commercial availability still stands under Article 4 (National Law
Limitations and Exceptions on Accessible Format Copies), but has disappeared
from Article 5 (cross-border exchange of accessible format copies).
The issue of the right of distribution to individuals was settled after
"some additional safeguards and some additional information sharing
mechanisms" were added to the text, according to Hughes.
The text will come back to plenary to be reviewed and adopted, after having
been through the drafting committee, on Thursday morning, said the WIPO
secretariat, and countries will give their comments on the treaty at this
Related Articles:
*	WIPO Members Inch Toward Visually Impaired Treaty
*	WIPO Visually Impaired Treaty: Voices From Africa On Dire Situation
*	Visually Impaired, Civil Society, Industry Defend Their Stakes In
Expectations High As End Of Substantive Negotiations Near For Blind Treaty
Published on 25 June 2013 @ 6:05 pm 
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
Marrakesh, Morocco - Today is the day for World Intellectual Property
Organization negotiators to find consensus on longstanding issues and come
up with language that can satisfy all countries' concerns on a treaty, the
first of its kind, that would provide copyright exceptions for visually
impaired people to have wider access to books worldwide.
In particular, the treaty aims to address the problem of cross-border
exchange of special formal works, which is currently prevented, between
certain countries, due to the lack of national legislation establishing
exceptions to allow importation or exportation of books. The diplomatic
conference convened to agree on the treaty is meeting from 17-28 June.
Delegates working informally are supposed to have settled all remaining
issues in order to propose them in the main Committee I, which is then
tasked with putting language to the full membership of WIPO. Then the
Drafting Committee, which was expected to start working today, can proceed
to do the actual writing of the treaty, but is not expected to discuss any
substantive issues.
A new draft treaty text was issued on 25 June and is available here
aft-consollidated-text-25-June-2013.pdf>  [pdf].
A list
st-of-outstanding-issues-25-June2013.pdf>  [pdf] of outstanding and resolved
issues was published this morning, after late discussions last night. It
shows difficulties stand in Article 4 (former Article C in the original
draft treaty text
[pdf]) (National Law Limitations and Exceptions on Accessible Format
Copies), Article 5 (former Article D) (cross-border exchange of accessible
format copies), and Article 6 (former Article E) (Importation of Accessible
Format Copies).
In Article 4, the right of translation was discussed this morning. The new
consolidated version of the text shows several proposals on the matter.
Chile and the United States have proposed language, which is the subject of
option (2) of Article 4 (B), stating that the paragraph on the right of
translation neither reduces nor extends the scope of applicability of the
limitations and exceptions permitted under the Berne Convention for the
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
Option (3) contains a proposal from the African Group and India, an "agreed
statement" from Mexico, and agreed statement language from the United
States. The African Group/India proposal refers to general provisions in the
treaty on exceptions and limitations (Articles 10, 11 and 12). Mexico's
agreed statement provides that the right of translation refers to the
translation made at the request of an authorised entity as long as the work
does not already exist in those languages in an accessible format. The
agreed statement of the US says that an authorised entity "ordinarily" has
no need to translate into a language when a translation in that language can
be obtained commercially, on reasonable terms.
According to several sources, the issue of the right of translation is a
political issue, to which a solution should be found.
Commercial Availability
Commercial availability appears both in Article 4 and in Article 5. It is
still a prickly issue, one with the potential to create problems for
facilitators until the last minute, according to sources. A source from the
African Group told Intellectual Property Watch that this could prove to be a
blocking issue (IPW, WIPO, 25 June 2013
eaty-on-books-for-the-print-disabled/> ).
Several sources from the international publishing industry told Intellectual
Property Watch that it is unclear why the right of translation should be
included and thus provide an exception to visually impaired people while
sighted people do not benefit from the same exception. Also, they said, the
right of translation should perhaps be taken under national development
policies, in the context, for example, of formerly colonised countries so
that they could be helped to translate works in the original language(s) of
the countries.
Resolved Issues
The list issued this morning also presented a list of resolved issues, in
particular the 10th provision of the preamble referring to the three-step
test, an agreed statement on audio books in Article 2 (former Article A).
The agreed statement appears in a footnote, and includes audio books. The
resolved issues appear to still include an amount of bracketed text, with
agreement on some language, such as choosing between "should" and "shall".
In Article 12 (formerly under the heading 'Articles') mention is made of the
special needs of least-developed countries and their international rights
and obligations.
According to a delegate from Group B (developed countries), progress has
been achieved this morning on the right of translation and the issue of
commercial availability was also closer to resolution. On both issues, he
told Intellectual Property Watch "things are moving forward."
He said delegates were expecting to come back to Committee I today to
present the progress on remaining issues.

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