Intellectual Property Owners Association Against Helping The Blind Because It Would 'Set A Dangerous Precedent'

from the encouraging-rights-for-the-public-would-do-what-now? dept

We’ve been covering the latest efforts by copyright maximalists to screw over the blind in the decades-in-waiting WIPO treaty process to help them get more access to content by creating clear carveouts in copyright law that protect the rights of the blind and of those who are transforming works for the blind. Basically, it’s about protecting the fundamental rights of the blind to have access to information that others have because they have sight. This process has gone on for ages, in large part because copyright maximalists absolutely fear the idea that anyone might put forth an agreement that ever so slightly pushes back on the maximalist agenda.

The amazing thing is that they’re not even subtle about this. Last year, we noted that in a video by Jamie Love showing Alan Adler, a VP for the Association of American Publishers, Adler was quite upfront about the fact that they’re against this agreement for the blind not because of the blind folks who need the help, but rather because they’re afraid of even opening the door to expanding things like fair use — which he claims is some sort of attack on copyright.

Jamie Love has now called our attention to a letter sent by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) to Teresa Stanek Rea, the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the USPTO, concerning this treaty, in which the IPO is equally explicit that its main complaint is any expansion of user rights like fair use is simply not acceptable. From the full letter, which is also embedded below:

IPO supports international action that addresses the needs of the visually impaired in meaningful ways, but we are concerned about the VIP treaty as currently drafted, focused exclusively on L/Es and not on the rights holders whose copyrights are at stake. We are also concerned about the potentially negative, precedential effect that a one-sided, exceptions-focused VIP treaty may have on parallel developments at WIPO and in other international negotiations

This is all sorts of hilarious. After all, the folks at IPO have long supported incredibly one-sided agreements that only focus on the expansion of copyright, and they’re among those who have actively fought any attempt to include user rights (they prefer to call them “limitations and exceptions”) in such agreements. So for them to suddenly step up and complain that this one small, narrowly focused agreement is a problem because it “only” focuses on such things, without regards to their “rights holders whose copyrights are at stake” is pretty funny. Why has IPO never been concerned about the rights of the public and users in every other such agreement?

Our main concern about the VIP treaty, as currently drafted, is that it addresses L/Es to copyrights in isolation, without parallel provisions addressing IP holders’ rights. The proposed VIP treaty would create specific L/Es to copyright protection, with the aim of broadening access to print works for the visually impaired. However, it would not reflect the importance of protecting the copyright of those who created the work.

Okay, so simple question for the IPO folks: in all future agreements that it supports, will it agree to support a “balance” that addresses user rights, rather than focusing on “copyrights in isolation without parallel provisions addressing users rights?”

The idea that the “rights” here are only one way and must be constantly ratcheted up is disingenuous and somewhat sickening. It’s this position that has kept the blind community from having access to all sorts of works for decades. And during those decades, folks like IPO have supported all sorts of incredibly one-sided expansions to copyright law without concerns for any public or user rights.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: intellectual property owners association

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Intellectual Property Owners Association Against Helping The Blind Because It Would 'Set A Dangerous Precedent'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Ninja (profile) says:

If allowing a small tiny bit of exception would solve the problem of hunger in the world the MAFIAA would still push against it. Such is the size of their greed. Instead of pushing mindlessly against it they should be engaging in giving it proper wording to make it narrowly focused to benefit people with visual or auditive restrictions. And for fuck sake, it’s a small proportion of the population, stop thinking about the damned profits of those…

Anonymous Coward says:

Fair Use/Dealing

“…they’re afraid of even opening the door to expanding things like fair use — which he claims is some sort of attack on copyright.”

By definition, isn’t this supposed to be fair? Why would anyone be afraid of giving people something that’s fair. What’s fair shouldn’t be considered an attack on anything. But denying what’s fair should be! I mean that’s only fair right?

out_of_the_blue says:

YOUR only interest in "the blind" is as wedge against copyright.

You aren’t fooling anyone, EITHER, Mike. That’s why the “maximalists” are rightly wary of all such attempts. It’s YOU PRO-pirate grifters who are harming “the blind” by cynical use of them as wedge so that your grifter pals can DIVERT income streams away from those who paid for and created the intellectual property in the first place.

And again, copyright is exactly society recognizing the monopoly due to those who CREATE works. YES, it’s a MONOPOLY. — IF you actually wish to limit copyright owners, then you should attack them the Populist way of getting too much money for limited work, rather than try to undermine the whole common law basis of WHO owns the works.

Anonymous Coward says:

“We are also concerned about the potentially negative, precedential effect that a one-sided, exceptions-focused VIP treaty may have on parallel developments at WIPO and in other international negotiations”
These aren’t the same people who are trying to get world trade laws expanded so that they can be applied in the US without having to actually be passed in the US, right?

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Why has IPO never been concerned

Why has IPO never been concerned about the rights of the public and users in every other such agreement?

Their goal is to “protect” intellectual …property – more likely the interest of corporations that rely on IP.

Why would they care about public interest or even fairness? No corporation is expected to care about public interest.

The real problem is that they’re treated as they are, not as a private interest advocacy group should be – with suspicion and reservation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Discrimination is illegal

in all forms, if you change the rules for one group, you have to change them for all groups, why give the blind a free pass, but deny it to someone who is deaf ? or who has lost a limb ?

What this person is saying is correct, it set’s a bad precedent, and it set’s up a means for discrimination.

So you believe because you are blind you have special rights to information and material that someone who is able does not ? or over someone who is disabled in another way, or because they are from another country and speak another language, or the color of their skin is different ?

Making laws different for people who are different is discrimination, that is what this is. I have as much sympathy for the blind as most other people, as I do for other with different disabilities and some ‘able’ people.

But that is not a justification for introducing rules for people based on their disability, because with the same rules for everyone it is a much fairer society, without the imposed discrimination miskick would want you to have.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Discrimination is illegal

So your argument to back up up the ‘AA’s discrimination against blind people is to say that those who are campaigning for access for the blind are themselves discriminatory for not also campaigning for other disabilities?
“Yeah, so what if we don’t allow blind people to read our books! You’re discriminating against deaf people because you’re not campaigning against our discrimination of deaf people to allow deaf people to insert whatever subtitles they want!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Discrimination is illegal

no, I am saying you cant make up a new set of rules for one specific group at the expense or disadvantage of other groups or abled people.

to support one group over another is simply, and clearly discrimination.

if you are going to do it for one you have to do it for all

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Discrimination is illegal

I suspect he’s one of the local obsessively pro-corporate trolls who’s blind to reality. So, his point in this case is presumably that he doesn’t think that a publisher’s “right” to make a profit from a work should be trumped by a blind person’s right to access knowledge and culture.

In other words, he probably thinks that allowing exceptions to DRM will encourage piracy (that’s already happening with or without DRM) and that the corporation’s “right” to a profit is more important than equality. If that sounds silly, read other recent threads, it gets sillier.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Discrimination is illegal

You know, if any real pro-copyright folk (or even shills) want to make themselves known and even change some viewpoints over here, the field is wide open. This thread’s proof again that all the dissenting voices tend to take the form of raving schizophrenics and people with zero grasp of reality.

Want to see a discussion of all viewpoints equally on this site with full credence given to every opposing view? Make sure someone who appears sane is making the points not already addressed in the discussion.

“I have as much sympathy for the blind as most other people”

Only you oppose their ability to access digital content because you’re afraid of being discriminated against for your ability to see the content without needing to bypass DRM. Yeah. Makes perfect sense. Loony.

Nonya says:

Re: Discrimination is illegal

I assume that the fairness your talking about here is accessing works without paying for them? Or not, whatever. Let me address the real point, as of now publishers have a dranconian level of control over how a work in their portfolio (which they had zero role in creating) gets distributed. Lets say they haven’t made a version in your language, want to get it translated? tough cookies if they don’t feel like devoting the resources to translating and marketing it to your language group (this includes all forms of sign language as used by the deaf and braille as used by the blind).

Under the current system if you want to give equal access by unofficially translating a copyrighted work into a form others can understand you could be prosecuted. Thats wrong. Also as a pirate let me tell you, their concerns about this making it “easier” to break drm or to pirate works is laughable. I can find anything, program, book, music, movie, t.v., or game very easily very quickly. No amount of DRM does more than change the quickly part to somewhat quickly. I’m not claiming any moral stance on piracy here, just pointing out their usual stump line to get people on their side is B.S. More DRM or copyright does not influence piracy in any real way. Giving reasonable reliable access to content does.

Eponymous Coward says:

They know how this game plays out, they copyrighted the playbook on it...

Playing a bit of devil’s advocate here; I feel their concern isn’t that this in itself will undermine IP, but will be the beginning fisures in their legal regime crumbling. What it comes down to is that they are master of the art of “asking for a little now” to use it as a place holder to ask for a lot more later, that slippery slope precedent. They are manuvering so not to receive a taste of their own medicine. I mean let’s be intellectually honest here; if we get our way on this will we stope there, or will we use the momentum of this “win” to ask for broader fair use in other forums? I myself am all for the later! They’re not stupid, they realize this and thus circle the wagons on any legislation or agreement that in anyway may push back against their cause.

Anonymous Coward says:

Basically, it’s about protecting the fundamental rights of the blind to have access to information that others have because they have sight.


I know you’re such an evidenced-based guy who would never spout off unfounded, faith-based assertions. Pray tell, what is the source of this “fundamental right” for the blind? I’d love to hear about it. Surely you have the evidence to back up your claim that such a right exist, or else your evidence-based nature would not have allowed you state affirmatively that it did. Thanks!

(There is no such right, fundamental or otherwise. It’s faith-based nonsense like this that I’m referring to when I say you’re just as bad if not worse than others in spouting faith-based nonsense. This is just another example in a long, long, long list of examples of you making stuff up. Wishing doesn’t make it so. Try reality sometime, you might like it.)


Re: Ayn Rand versus history.

Calling it a right might be a bit of a stretch.

Call it a basic expectation of a civilized society. No one is a second class citizen. No one is disposable. We leave no one behind. We take care of the old and crippled and each other in general.

The real right under dispute here is the right to do whatever you want with your own personal property. That goes back beyond the Normans or even the Romans.

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Re:

Basically, it’s about protecting the fundamental rights of the blind to have access to information that others have because they have sight.

Pray tell, what is the source of this “fundamental right” for the blind? I’d love to hear about it. … There is no such right, fundamental or otherwise.

Well, I don’t know what Mike was thinking of precisely, but perhaps it was the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Or perhaps he was thinking of the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, coupled with 17 USC 121, which limits copyrights so that third parties can make and distribute copies of copyrighted works (an exercise of free speech) without permission from or payment to copyright holders, so as to aid blind persons. All that’s being discussed now is expanding this concept, well established and uncontroversal in the US, and updating to cold with more recent developments, like anticircumvention laws that are in need of being circumvented.

Or maybe it was something else altogether.

What’s your beef with it? You hate blind people or something? Or are you willing to come forward and say that you absolutely support the right of blind people (and people assisting them) the world over to circumvent DRM, and copy and distribute copies of works as needed to facilitate their use by the blind, without permission or payment?

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Tenth Amendment. Bill of Rights. Its where most rights we have come from. Like your right to privacy, which you exercise by being an AC. Also your right to not be hunted down and raped and beat to death by the blind. Just because its not enumerated, doesn’t mean you dont have it. That said, Here are some places where existing rights imply a the right of the blind to equal access to the vast stores of human information.

1) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
If I have the right of access to information, so does a blind person. Copyright should not stand in the way of providing that information in a form that is consumable by a blind person, as suggested by Article 27 section 1 (this is the Article which gives us “Copyright”):
“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
If that isnt enough, the Commentaries on the International Bill of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights help express again that universal access is a right (emphasis mine ):
“As such, it is intrinsically linked to the other rights recognized in article 15 of the Covenant, i.e. the right to take part in cultural life (art. 15, para. 1 (a)), the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (art. 15, para. 1 (b)), and the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity (art. 15, para. 3). “
“…the freedom of expression including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, the right to the full development of the human personality, and rights of cultural participation, including cultural rights of specific groups.”

Title 4 of the Americans with Disabilities Act deals with Telecommunications access for the Deaf. The US Government required the Telecos to provide functionally equivalent services to those who could not use the Telephone in the traditional manner. While not directly related, the US government recognized the need for equal access for those who could not interact with the world in the manner the majority does. You might say “But the ADA doesn’t include requirements to require e-books and their readers to support access for the blind!” That is true. However, that is highly because now that the tech exists to better support the blind, laws are only now being implemented to require it. Those laws are the ones being blocked by Copyright maximalists.

Support for the position is included in a large number of rights. Any equality provision suggests that the blind have a right to read just as much as anyone else. Please show me a right that suggests the the blind should just be uncultured second class citizens. Existing books for the blind have one of several upcharges, either because they need to have special braille paper, or because they have to get an expensively produced Audiobook. An E-reader has the capability of producing a low quality audio narration (a good narrator adds to the novel in ways a computer synthesized voice can not) but cant, because of Copyright and DRM. So Why should the blind pay a ‘Blind Tax” to access information originally written down?

Rekrul says:

Why has IPO never been concerned about the rights of the public and users in every other such agreement?

I don’t understand this continued delusion that copyright laws have to consider the public for anything. Copyright law is solely for the benefit of large corporations. You know it, the corporations know it and the government knows it. Thinking that it serves any other purpose today is pure fantasy.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I don’t understand this continued delusion that copyright laws have to consider the public for anything. Copyright law is solely for the benefit of large corporations. You know it, the corporations know it and the government knows it. Thinking that it serves any other purpose today is pure fantasy.”

The “continued delusion” is what Mick the Nick does..

Sheogorath (profile) says:

The precedent has already been set

Most of the recommendations from the Hargreaves Review received Royal Assent, and as a result, it will legal in the UK from October to make an accessible copy of any book for a disabled person that needs it. The ‘dangerous’ thing about this is how it will force companies to follow the Equality Act 2010 in order to avoid ‘losing sales to piracy’.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Intellectual Property Owners Association. (IPOA) Another cold heartless organization bent on destroying life giving/saving/supporting/nurturing culture to a vulnerable group of people?

Its a crying shame that such beneficial culture can be labeled a fair use exception. What is this deal with exceptions anyway and how do we allow such a valuable support society be cubbyholed as an ‘exception’? Its an important goal that fair use be fully enshrined as Fair Use Rights.

There is no right of profit over disadvantaged groups. There is no right to deny them a support group that has existed, developed and even flourished. The population of blind is 0.08% (USA 2006 from NAMCS) thats not even one tenth of one percent. Explain how this tiny minuscule group size is going to cut into anyones profits.

Only ~10% of the blind know how to read braille and the rest depend on other means of reading like Books for the Blind or a computer that reads text aloud. Forcing the blind to pay for performance rights or whatever copywrong (right) scheme to profit off of the disabled is just too much.

The blind have enough problems because (mostly) many people don’t want to or cannot care for disabled who are often pushed onto government support. Where is the IPOA not adding to this incredible burden that the blind already carry?

And. The IPOA is a collection of big, large, huge, gigantic corporations. Apple, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, Dow Chemical and on and on. Its clear that these corporations didn’t give nary a whit about the society and culture of support the blind rely on everyday. Maybe they felt that .08% was not large enough a group to take seriously?


Reading the IPOA ‘recommendation’ letter to the USPTO was depressing/boring and seemed only to further cubbyhole and diminish the Fair Use Rights of the disabled. The IPOa seemed insistent on not just labeling them ?exceptions? but further restricted the Fair Use Rights of disabled to ?limitations and exceptions? (or L/E) as if ?exceptions wasn’t enough.

The letter speaks of ?dangerous precedent? and that may just be true. Since copyright has grown into a law that kills off culture and society rather than the additive plus it was to have been they might be worried. And. They should. (If voters actually learn higher than two candidates.)

Furthermore. What idea does the IPOA have to actually connect the two words Intellectual and Property. Ideas are not property and its kind of disgusting to hear some (obviously culturally blind) association make the association. (pun)

If justice were a lady… then, about 7 months before repealing all the copyright changes since its inception, the DoJ will be ordered to surprise search every IPOA members corporation headquarters for copyright violations (guaranteed there will be many as the laws are way too broad). It would be nice to have official complaints and or tip-offs to be legit.

redouane says:

descreption of the Alaouite Organization of the protection of the blind

I love all this & i really would’ve followed these intersting articls good info to understanding that really fabalous to chicking out on this gorgeous things like this, my questionaire to discusse when it organization of the protection of the blind was sat up ? what are the goals ? who was the creater of this Organization, & then how does it work

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...