US Looking To Strip Fair Use & Other Key Protections From Copyright Treaty For The Blind

from the this-is-helping-the-blind? dept

We had just pointed out that the MPAA is now pretending to be in support of a copyright treaty for the blind, despite its lobbyists doing all sort of things to try to block it. Now we have reports from Geneva, via Jamie Love, that the US is opposing important language in the treaty, which is part of the reason that it’s still being held up. First, as noted in the link above, the US is opposing the following footnote, which may seem like a small deal:

It is understood that Contracting Parties who are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) acknowledge all the principles and objectives of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and understand that nothing in this Treaty affects the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, including, but not limited to, the provisions relating to anti-competitive practices.

As Love notes, similar language has appeared in a variety of other agreements, including ACTA and the Beijing Treaty (which would give Hollywood stars their own special copyrights). Why is this language important? Because TRIPS includes key provisions that allow countries to make some of their own decisions about how they implement the agreements, to protect the public’s rights. But, the content industry doesn’t want that same language in this treaty, which is focused on the public’s rights, because they’re afraid it will, once again, open the door to countries expanding the public’s rights, and pushing back on egregious copyright restrictions on those rights.

As if to drive that point home, in a later update emailed from Love, he notes that the US is now also trying to get the phrase “fair practices, dealings or uses” deleted from the following section of the treaty:

“Contracting parties may fulfill their rights and obligations under this Treaty through, exceptions or limitations, specifically for the benefit of beneficiary persons,other exceptions or limitations,or a combination thereof within their national legal traditions/systems. These may include judicial, administrative or regulatory determinations for the benefit of beneficiary persons as to fair practices, dealings or uses to meet their needs.”

In other words, it’s just as we said the MPAA is trying to do: sure they claim they want a treaty to help the blind, but not if it includes anything even remotely suggesting an expansion of the public’s fair use rights. So, here, they’re “fine” with helping the blind get access to works, but not if it’s done via fair use.


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Comments on “US Looking To Strip Fair Use & Other Key Protections From Copyright Treaty For The Blind”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“So, here, they’re “fine” with helping the blind get access to works, but not if it’s done via fair use.”

Sounds as if those concerned about the verbiage are inclined towards the approach used in the US, i.e., Section 121 of Title 17 versus an expansive reading of Section 107. Not at all clear what is unreasonable about doing so…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Mike states: “they claim they want a treaty to help the blind, but not if it includes anything even remotely suggesting an expansion of the public’s fair use rights”

There is nothing inconsistent about those two positions.

And, as noted above in comment #5, it is not clear why those two positions should be seen as unreasonable, especially in the context of supporting a treaty that will accomplish the stated goal of greater access for the blind.

I understand Mike would want the treaty to do more to expand unfettered public access. However, it is tough to escape the fact that the proposed treaty has a specific purpose, to promote access to a more limited populace — the blind.

It seems odd to take the position that the treaty must accomplish more, especially when such insistence would threaten success on the broadly agreed upon goal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well said and succinctly so. To my knowledge a subset of all that is needed to address the matter of access by blind and others with print disabilities has been on the table for quite some time, modeled along the lines of Section 121. Unfortunately, the “treaty” has been taken hostage by certain interests, countries, civil society groups, etc. who are working various angles to cull back copyright law in numerous respects. Fine, advocate culling back if so inclined, but stop hiding behind the skirts of the blind and print disabled by insisting that the culling must happen here. It reeks of efforts and approaches by those who hide behind the skirts of children in promoting legislation that is anything but for children.

out_of_the_blue says:

From the trying-to-help-pirates department.

Even if I agreed with you, Pirate Mike, this is a feeble attack. And quite repetitive. At best, it’s obvious that specifically helping the blind does not in any way require expanding fair use for everyone else. But a general expansion is your goal, and you don’t actually care about the blind, either, for more than this wedge.

Shmerl says:

At best, it’s obvious that specifically helping the blind does not in any way require expanding fair use for everyone else

Fair use already allows blind people to access these works across the borders. Why doesn’t it work though? Because copyright lobby thwarts the application of fair use. The treaty just makes them harder to thwart that. But you are right – in theory the treaty isn’t even needed to exercise these rights despite the ire of the copyright lobby. In practice it’s needed to break lobby’s teeth with which they like to bite those who dare exercising fair use.

special-interesting (profile) says:

My earlier comment on what went on behind the scene for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to wangle/negotiate with the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) still applies; What threats of force, promise of lawsuits or magical hints of huge donations in the future did the MPAA likely wage/make or nuance. What soothing song/lullaby was played?

It seems that contrary to what the MPAA says they are themselves more like the Pirate Horde they supposedly battle against. Negotiations with the MPAA have more similarity to towns and cities trying to pay off the Mongol Barbarians as they sat outside the city gates than civilized contracts or boardroom office deals.

Lets get a real-like analysis of how the MPAA (and other **AAs) do their barbarian like warfare. They used to sue on behalf of their members but have begun to play dirty by bribing lawmakers with huge campaign donations to… write law?

Laws especially in their favor since, of course, much of it was written by them. Laws that put the burden of prosecution on the government thus getting the US government to pay for their own (what used to be civil) lawsuits! Laws that further extend and perpetuate a horrible monopoly. A pirate would do no better.

In fact the slick and professional efforts by the copyright industry advocate groups put the pirates to shame in terms of nasty written law and dirty legal deeds done dirt cheep. Thats right we now have Lawyer (pirate?) Hordes operating copyright (and worse porn) troll operations skimming millions off of people they just know as an IP address number. Why bother with such a nitty detail like evidence when intimidation will suffice?

To be specific; the MPAA effectively pirates American (and other) Culture. Our right to wear whatever slogans on our T-Shirts. Our right to sing whatever song we want to whomever we want? Our right to associate with whomever we want should not be placed in peril just because a few publishers (and whatever whining the artists make) say?

Can the MPAA do anything but steal from Public Domain Rights and Fair Use Rights. The totally unfair method they use is a US government granted Monopoly of ruthless business nature called copyright. Copyright is already completely out of control to the extent that basic human rights (as in the Bill of Rights) are becoming extinct.

-end general rant #1-

-begin specific rant #2-

So now we have the MPAA trying to hijack a treaty for the Blind not just to what has been perceived as hobbling it but for what now amounts to pirating the treaty for their own ends! Its makes the average reader ponder just who the real pirates are?

It stands to reason that the clever and powerful lawyers and political machine sponsored by the MPAA whale will crush and devour whole the lonely small NFB krill/fish. Sharks and tadpoles do not make for good swimming pals. Pirates upon the high seas might do the same to a modern luxury ocean cruise liner. Arrrrrr.

NONE of this would be much of a problem if the eternal copyright term limits were retracted to something culturally reasonable like 14-28 years.

The whole idea behind this treaty was to provide expanded/greater access to published works in the first place. Placing wording to prevent that makes the treaty so much more impotent.

If lawmakers would do anything other than warm seats and take political contributions they might try to corral the wild west untamed nature of the copyright-industry beast. Its the copyright industry itself that is the problem. They are the Cultural Pirates themselves!

Instead we get what? The lawmakers themselves seem to be parroting/echoing what the MPAA wanted them to say?

The Blind as a group just get pushed out of the way. A footnote along the copyright industries way to pirate ALL of American Culture. It is impossible to see how the MPAA could even attempt to say they support the Blind’s battle against all manner of barriers they must overcome to survive in an obviously hostile copyright world.

The obvious hippocritical-ness of this situation takes the entire cake. In a way ya just have to appreciate their gall. Its still a tragedy that such small groups are likely played for the innocents they are in the treacherous world of copyright law.

P.S. In a very recent previous post about the Blind treaty-negotiations was a very good expose on the naming conventions and their use/abuse by current copyright maxilmalists. An example would be that copyright should be renamed in to copy-exception because that is what it was SUPPOSED to be.

Anonymous Coward says:

how come the MPAA and other entertainment industries are allowed to get away with such blatant discrimination against disabled people? why do politicians think this is ok? do they not have anyone in their own families who have some sort of disability, or is it that because there is plenty of money in the family it doesn’t matter??

special-interesting (profile) says:

There is nothing wrong with putting the relevant sections of Blind Treaty under Fair Use (Rights). The only thing preventing such a simple categorization is what? The Panicking of a copy-exception (right) support group a hundred times more massive than the entire Blind and Blind-support community?

Do they see their massive Monopoly crumbling down because of one chip in the verbal/literary column? Maybe. And. For gumming up a perfectly workable treaty for the Visually Impared with political monopolistic nonsense… Fine.

In any case imagined will the copyright industry stop at just trying to recategorize Fair Use for the Blind community? No way. If they felt frightened by such a small thing as that then there is no appeasing them. Ever. Wont happen. Its likely they will be obstructionist forever regardless of what they speak or say. More cigarette argument lies.

Until the MPAA entered the scene this was a treaty that everyone (almost) totally agreed upon. Did they understand the high(er) rate of suicide among the Def- Blind and Blind? The utter hopelessness of having everyone around you try to describe a world that you can never visually interpret nor see? Having to pay more for things that others take for granted.

It is correct to say that people are dying because of the selfish obstructionism of the copyright industry. What we are experiencing is not semantics but literal obstruction for the glory and expansion of a copyright empire that has already crushed the uncrushable American Culture of Freedom. (while the baby slept?)

Freedom for the Blind community? Ha! Such a long way to go for even such a humanitarian goal as that. Hell. Basic Bill of Rights freedoms have been washed away years ago. All for what? Hollywood Accounting Principles? Hollywood? Porno film stars?

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Let the treaty go ahead, MAFIAA

Treaty says “anybody can make an accessible copy where no legally available accessible copy already exists“, so publishers make legal accessible copies of media available just so no one can make use of the new Fair Use provisions, making money from a previously non-existent market. Care to tell me who loses in this deal, MAFIAA, or are you really that stupid? Oh, wait…

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