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Disappointing: Obama Administration Won't Support Treaty For Helping Blind Get Digital Books

from the shame dept

JJ points us to an unfortunate story that the Obama administration appears to be siding against an intellectual property treaty agreement that would have helped blind and visually impaired individuals by allowing "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." As the article notes, exceptions to copyright law for the production of books for the blind is common, and effectively this would expand that to ebooks. Many had hoped that the administration would support it... but:
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.
It continues to be a massive disappointment that politicians keep bowing down to corporate pressure when it clearly goes against the very purpose of copyright law.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 7:32am

    Market based??

    Since when is government-enforced monopoly a market based solution? These guys make me sick.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Davis Freeberg, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:11am

    I can't believe that the market for books for the blind is so large that they are lobbyists for it. There has to be more to the story than this?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Unfortunately, there is no way to say that the intended market will be the only people to profit. Instead, it is likely that these audio books would end up widely distributed on the internet for free, harming audio book sales and possibly even harming actual books sales.

    Giving everything away for free isn't the only solution in life.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Are there no blind children? What could be more powerful than "do it for the blind children"?

     

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  5.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    "extolling the virtues of market based solutions"

    What a great idea. Let's get rid of governmental granted monopolies such as copyright, and all the corresponding laws and treaties, and let a truly free market sort this out without any governmental interference!

    I'd guess we'd have some real innovation taking place and people would have greater and cheaper access to music, books, movies, etc. What a brave suggestion coming from an industry which has long survived on what is essentially corporate welfare.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    "What could be more powerful than "do it for the blind children"?"

    Do it for the blind children's seeing eye puppy?

    Brought to you by Sarah Mcluaghlin and the world's most unwatchable commercial...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    geekorama, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:20am

    The Messiah

    Oddly, I thought Obama could help stop world hunger one stimulus "coupon" at a time, leap buildings without breaking a sweat and help the blind see....

     

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  8.  
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    FatGiant (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    Disappointing that polititians are bought by lobbys? How?

    By deffinition a polititian is a property bought and payed for. What else can you expect from them?

    When I heard my sister saying she was considering a political career, I stopped talking to her for 2 years. She eventually got the message.

    I have more respect for drug dealer, that is doing harm to a few kids, then I have for ANY polititian in the world. Those scumbags I consider bellow human.

    Apparently, I have seen no actual proof, they provide a service of some kind. Even if that proves to be true, wich I really doubt, one for each city would be more then enough. The rest, well, I can think of several uses, being fertilizer the best so far.

    For all of you, that really think a polititian is someone important, I can only say... I just saw Santa Claus having a drink with Superman.

    Have a nice one...

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 8:52am

    This is more evidence that most of the laws/acts that the government does support (ie: global acts requiring stricter intellectual property laws) aren't designed to help the general public, they are designed to help special interest groups. When an act comes along that might actually help poor and powerless people, the government refuses. They only support acts that help the rich and the powerful, the poor and powerless simply get ran over.

     

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  10.  
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    Comboman, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    There are lots of people that while not legally blind, can't see well enough to read. With the aging population, this group is growing fast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    obvious troll is obvious

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Re: The Messiah

    "I thought Obama could help stop world hunger one stimulus "coupon" at a time, leap buildings without breaking a sweat and help the blind see"

    Well if Jesus would start pulling his weight around here and come back from his 2000 year break, he wouldn't have to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re:

    Are you saying those books aren't widely distributed for free on the internet right now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Re:

    So why cant that be done now there are ebooks there also are free applications to read text to a person.

    Any thing that is digital can be shared one way or another.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:41am

    I wouldn't say so much 'disappointing' as 'expected'.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:48am

    It's an Obamination...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Jason (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:14am

    I'm sure not all publishers were part of this lobby...

    Baen books has been giving away their books to the handicapped for free, with the assistance of a group called ReadAssist.

    http://www.webscription.net/news.aspx?showarticle=2

    I'm pretty sure that they've been doing it since longer than last November, as I thought I'd originally read about it in '07, but it's been a while since I actually looked at the page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: The Messiah

    Tgeigs, you're still breathing. It's really more than you deserve.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: The Messiah

    "Tgeigs, you're still breathing. It's really more than you deserve."

    That's probably true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Re: The Messiah

    On the other hand, I also like Baen Books, so we have something in common! Yay!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Newt Gingrich, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:44am

    The answer is..

    The blind should form a union and then maybe the administration could be swayed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Re:

    Stupid coward, read the article first! There is NOTHING in there about audio books.

    It's talking about formats that allow the blind to use "special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type."

    SO YES you CAN say that this wouldn't hurt audio book sales unless of course your plan was to make blind people pay more to get an audio book. In which case you were (note the subjunctive here) a jackass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The Messiah

    And to be fair, the same applies to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The Messiah

    Sorry, different Jason. I'll check into them, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Messiah

    Fair enough.

    Congeniality is fun...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Messiah

    Oh hell yeah, sci-fi rules!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Retlaw, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Disappointing: Obama Administration Won't Support Treaty For Helping Blind Get Digital Books

    Just one more way the current administration shows they do not giva a damn about 'the people'...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Krusty, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:04pm

    Re: The Messiah

    You dare mock the anointed one? Blasphemer, heretic.
    You will surely incur the mighty wrath of the OBAMA=:D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Courtney (profile), Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    You mean there wasn't anything in that Omnibus bill about helping blind children get books? For shame.

    The bibliophile in me cries for the poor blind children and their seeing eye puppies. How much should we wager that if it had been a prime time news issue big O would have been all for it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    I can't believe that the market for books for the blind is so large that they are lobbyists for it. There has to be more to the story than this?

    You mis-understand. The lobbyists aren't working for the people producing books for the blind, they're working for the book industry in general.

    Groups who support the blind wanted exceptions made so that ebooks could be used by blind people. In other words, they wanted to be able to break the DRM to allow those ebooks to be used with readers that would render them in braille or read them aloud and the book industry lobbyists fought against that, arguing that ebooks must[/i> have DRM and that everyone should just let the market sort it out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re:

    So why cant that be done now there are ebooks there also are free applications to read text to a person.

    Because any ebook you "buy" from a major publisher is going to come saddled with DRM that restricts what you can do with it. Amazon's Kindle 2 has a text to speech feature, but Amazon bowed to the publishing industry and created a software-controlled kill switch for it. So now any publisher who doesn't want the Kindle to read their books aloud can simply disable that feature for their book. Why would they do that? Because they can.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    compsci, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    News alert on CNN Obama just took over the book publishers!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 2:35pm

    The blind are a very powerful special interest group. Everyone knows justice is blind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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