How The MPAA Fought To Keep Audiovisual Materials Out Of WIPO Treaty For The Blind/Deaf; And How That's A Disaster For Education

from the a-serious-problem dept

The MPAA has been trying to rehabilitate its image concerning its well documented attempts to screw over the blind and the deaf in blocking the decades-in-negotiations WIPO treaty to improve access to works. Over at KEI, Fedro De Tomassi, has a detailed explanation for how the MPAA fought to keep “audio-visual works” completely out of the treaty, and the massive impact it has on education. First, he notes how frequently video is now used in the classroom:

Since I started taking classes at St. Olaf college 3 years ago, there has not been one professor that has not used some sort of audiovisual aid during the course. I am a political science major, and the trends of using videos is no different in the humanities. For example in my Russian and Eurasian politics class, we studied the relations between the Soviet Union and its satellite states today, and the use of Youtube videos and documentary films were instrumental in giving us a better understanding of the situation. The use of videos in education has become a norm to address the needs of various types of learners as well as to complement the various tools and sources at the disposal of the professors.

Videos are not used solely in the classroom, they are assigned as homework and part of the syllabus and the “reading list” of most if not all courses you have to take to get a bachelor today. Audiovisual materials also compose a large part of the library. Archival footage for example is an essential part of a history major curriculum.

Just last week, I had dinner with a university professor who was telling me the difficulty she had in trying to get the use of videos approved for her teaching, asking a variety of people about the copyright issues of even linking to clips online and getting back vague or contradictory answers.

Fedro then points out how the MPAA made sure the treaty for the blind and the deaf turned into one just for the blind.

In 2009, the Motion Picture Industry began to lobby the Obama Administration to narrow the treaty to “print disabilities” only, and to eliminate deaf persons as beneficiaries. By 2010, the Obama Administration took a hard line in the WIPO negotiations, backed upon by the European Union, to narrow the treaty, excluding deaf persons. This was designed to overcome political opposition from the MPAA, and the USPTO said the compromise on beneficiaries was necessary for the text to move forward. In November 2010, the WIPO SCCR agreed to separate the more “mature” issues of visually impaired and reading disabilities from “other disabilities” in its negotiations. In June 2011, a new committee sponsored negotiating text for this treaty (SCCR/24/9) defined beneficiaries in such a way that deaf persons were excluded.

But, that’s not all. There were still questions around “audiovisual works” and the MPAA went to work again:

From 1985 to 2011, the various treaty proposals all would have covered any copyrighted work, including, for example SCCR/23/7, the text published in December 2011. But shortly after the MPAA was able to remove deaf persons as beneficiaries, they lobbied the Obama Administration to remove audiovisual works from the text. The Obama Administration proposed this formally in June 2012, and in December 2012, there was a deal to eliminate audiovisual works from the text, in order to get an agreement to hold a diplomatic conference in June 2013. Since nothing is set in stone in the negotiation, that decision can be changed, but it will probably require a change of position in the Obama White House, which has threatened to block the treaty if audiovisual works are included.

The MPAA’s claims that it wants this treaty passed ring pretty hollow. It wants a completely gutted version approved at a time when audiovisual works are increasingly not just important, but necessary, for education.

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Comments on “How The MPAA Fought To Keep Audiovisual Materials Out Of WIPO Treaty For The Blind/Deaf; And How That's A Disaster For Education”

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RD says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jun 12th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

I pray to Christ that Mike just outright bans your IP from being able to post on here. You deserve it. If all you have to add to these discussions is the same post over and over, then you just dont need to be here and we dont care to hear you open your yap anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I see that you still have not learnt how to read yet. It must get really annoying having to get your mommy to read to you.

Just think, another couple of years and you won’t have to use crayons any more.

You are nothing but a useless joke Joe. Not funny and no punchline

still cheating on all of your exams?

Why won’t you answer my question? too scared to tell the truth?

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

If Hollywood insists on retain ultimate control, they should be required to pay for and provide these services on all their material.

I’m surprised they haven’t offered this as an option, since ultimately it would only hurt low-budget independent films that can’t afford to comply with the rules. Isn’t that how corporations traditionally shut people out – by making it too expensive to play the game?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And yet the MPAA probably wouldn’t be worried about people stealing their stuff if it weren’t for all the greedy, selfish, dipshit pirates who knowingly and willingly pirate all they want. Funny how the same idiots that cause the problem then complain about the results they brought about.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not their stuff. It’s our stuff, the people.

We the people made a deal along time ago that in order to promote the arts and sciences, we’d give them exclusive rights to any of our stuff that they might’ve felt like they created solely to the end that it would promote the arts and sciences.

It’s no wonder we’re pissed when they try to cheat the system and use those rights to rip off blind and deaf people and universities and students who’re only trying to promote the progress.

If it wasn’t our stuff, we couldn’t have granted the rights to it, which would make all of copyright null and void anyway.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

^^ .. and at the point that ones’ claim to the fruits of their labors prevents further creativity, to an unreasonable degree (which probably means it’s not exactly your labors) then all of the public can choose to plant a seed borne of your labor, and you, much to your dismay, must do the same. Thus more fruit.

It’s just been allowed to get the point of causing an egregious stagnation on furthering the human experience.

Add the NSA thing and now we have a public that is conscience and will, undoubtedly, begin to show signs of restraint when their lack of privacy, as benign as they’d have you believe the programs are, begin to invade the conscience. Or not.. we’ll see I guess.

There is a decidedly odd commonality between the collections of our data and the hopes and aspirations of an abusive copyright lobby.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If you don’t agree, then what do you suggest is the constitutional basis for placing time limits on copyright?

The corollary with land or personal property would be that you are allowed to own property but only for a limited time, after which, you or your heirs are required to surrender all property for return to the public.

The US public doesn’t have any right to reclaim your actual land or personal property as our own. Even where the governments powers allow for immanent domain, it is still required that you receive fair compensation.

Do you feel that we should raise taxes in order to pay every artist whose work goes into public domain once their copyright has expired? Or is it beginning to dawn on you that copyright is not and has never been actual property?

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

No, on second thought, I change my mind and am fully swayed in all things by the Gentleperson from the State of Anonymous.

After reviewing the issue it is my intention to bring a BILL to the floor of this house that will RAISE THE TAXES of the AMERICAN PUBLIC in order to fund the REPAYMENT and the administration thereof to ALL HOLDERS OF EXPIRED COPYRIGHTS, whether they be previously asserted or not.

The language of the 5th AMENDMENT is clear and was presented by the framers with full knowledge of the copyright clause, and IF WE INDEED TAKE SERIOUSLY the proposition that the framers intended copyright to be TREATED AS PROPERTY IN EVERY WAY, then regarding the lack within the 5th Amendment of any exemption for copyright expiration, WE MUST CONCLUDE that they framers intended the DE FACTO INCLUSION OF COPYRIGHT under the EMINENT DOMAIN CLAUSE of the 5th AMENDMENT.

Thankfully, there’s no need to reinvent the means for evaluating the losses since there are already statutory guidelines and well established case law guiding our efforts.

Now my opponents may say:
– WTF???
– That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
– That would run our economy into the ground, into oblivion and beyond!

And to that I say, now hold on just a minute, mister! Of course, all of the costs might be a little heavy at first, but JUST THINK OF THE EXPLOSIVE BOON this will be in the long term.

Think of all the bahjillions in profitable arts and sciences. Think of the unpublished artists who have already died whose families can now release their work at full value to a ready and eager public.

Based on historical RIAA and MPAA valuations for instances of unauthorized copyright use, the net benefit would yield roughly 15.3 Dodecononillion dollars. We could FLY TO MARS, PEOPLE!

I would like to personally thank Anonymous Coward, and all of his/her affiliated namesakes for both the inspiration and the brilliant logic that made it possible to create this bill.

Thank you!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Those filthy blind people. Wanting stuff to read & such. Don’t they know that their translations of books and other printed media is inconvenient and harder to make money off of than regular books for us sighted folks? Now they want to have audio descriptions so they can enjoy movies and television too? It’s piracy, I tell you! Piracy! How can I, as a movie executive, pay for the gold plating on my pool hardware at my winter vacation home in Malibu? /sarc

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Funny is how the MPAA complains and pirates just go Honey Badger and just don’t care. Pirates come and take it all (Veni, vidi, vici). Like the Honey Badger they don’t give a shit if it gets stung, pirates apparently are indestructible.

Have you noticed how pirates seem to not contract in their numbers?

They are so resilient that they keep growing despite any environmental conditions favorable to them, and that from a survival perspective is just amazing. How they can do that?

Maybe you could learn a thing or two with them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So blind people pirate, and therefore it’s their fault they’re suffering?

I’m starting to see why you never post about Prenda, because you’d like to defend them – but it makes you look worse than you already do. (Shocking, I know. Most people don’t think you could sink lower.) You’d probably praise the prosecutors who brought the case against Gertrude Walton, who was sued for copyright infringement that occurred after she died, on a computer that couldn’t run the program she allegedly used.

But hey, don’t let me dissuade you from your lactation fetish.

out_of_the_blue says:

Milking Mike on this since at least Wed, Dec 19th 2012

Depending how you want to define, this one specifically has MPAA in it:
“Slight Progress Made On Treaty To Help The Blind Not Get Screwed Over By Copyright”

And Mike DOES warn us there: “The actual conference to discuss all of this will be held in June, and between now and then, expect all sorts of posturing…” Yeah, by Mike!

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up same place!
Where fanboys assert that multi-billion industries are doing it all wrong!
10:09:39[l- 82-3]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually this is good, good for pirates, more and more common people are being labeled pirates, more and more common people are being called criminals.

Pirates will inherit this earth. The MPAA is swealing the ranks of the pirates, with every move they take to strengthen that monopoly and that is what will bring that system to its knees.

I am not worried about the blind, they will get people to read to them, they will get the tech to read texts for them and the only thing the MPAA and governments everywhere will get from their own people is scorn.

Anonymous Coward says:

And this is why my love for pirates just grows and grows.

No matter what the laws are, they still be there, no matter what the administration is, they still be there.

Sometimes I believe that pirates can survive anything.

Doesn’t matter how bad it gets they are always there.

People should strive to become more like pirates in that sense, also piracy is the only force that can truly break undeserved monopolies.

out_of_the_blue says:

On internal evidence, BAN videos from college!

Made the mistake of idly reading the blockquote, and can’t resist picking it apart:

“Since I started taking classes at St. Olaf college 3 years ago, there has not been one professor that has not used some sort of audiovisual aid during the course.” — Your clausation* implies cause and effect. Just say “In 3 years at…”

“the use of Youtube videos and documentary films were instrumental in giving us a better understanding of the situation.” — “Instrumental” doesn’t mean uniquely capable, only that it’s a tool. Books would serve you far better, as would investing your time in quiet study rather than drinking binges.

“The use of videos in education has become a norm to address the needs of various types of learners” — Well, yeah, now courses are dumbed-down to where “political science”, laughed at in my day, is now taken seriously.

“as well as to complement the various tools and sources at the disposal of the professors.” — Clearly, that’s being done NOW therefore no changes from MPAA are required.

‘Videos are not used solely in the classroom, they are assigned as homework and part of the syllabus and the ?reading list? of most if not all courses you have to take to get a bachelor today.” — Horribly ignorant usages. A “syllabus” is a course outline, not an item to be studied as such. The “reading list” is self-mocking, as if sitting and watching a video is equivalent to reading. Also, “to get a bachelor today” is an old joke, and still literally implies that one’s purpose at college is to find a mate. After we geezers laugh, we’ll just have to assume “bachelor’s degree” was meant.

[* All asterisked words are humorized* usage.]

Anonymous Coward says:



“Well, yeah, now courses are dumbed-down to where “political science”, laughed at in my day, is now taken seriously.”

Your days were before 1940?

Youtube: 1940 X Ray Physics Documentary By William D Coolidge

Those videos from those days were really instructional, you actually would be able to build the things they talked about it, which brings me to the point that people are visual creatures, there was a time that we had only books as visual guide, now we have so much more, but in todays world what we see is a language barrier in videos, people don’t talk the common language anymore, it didn’t get dumb it down it got highly specialized with terms that nobody outside a certain circle can get it.

Watching somebody light a fire is far more instructive than reading about it, there is a reason the old cliche “An image speaks more than a thousand words” was created.

You don’t seem to understand the world you live in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: On internal evidence, BAN videos from college!

“the use of Youtube videos and documentary films were instrumental in giving us a better understanding of the situation.” — “Instrumental” doesn’t mean uniquely capable, only that it’s a tool. Books would serve you far better, as would investing your time in quiet study rather than drinking binges.

And in this context, it does not mean that it is just a tool. As Merriam-Webster defines it, in this context, it would mean ‘serving as a crucial means, agent, or tool.’ Books cannot demonstrate, they can only describe. In many ways they are far inferior to video.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Thanks TechDirt for doing the research necessary to bring such back-room legal debauchery to light. The revelation on how the Deaf have been cheated out of a legitimate treaty in their behalf is a tragedy/victim of current copyright law/might. Shame. Shame. Shame! (pirate; Arrr…)

This treaty could have been so much more. How can there exist ANY reason to exclude the Deaf from this treaty? What does more ?mature? issues mean? How is that a reason to deny learning materials to the Deaf?

The treaty for the Blind (and Deaf) is most likely a victim of the MPAA’s (and other copyright organization culprits) relentless attack on Fair Use Rights.

In reality, what is going on? The MPAA is likely a malicious-special-interest-organization. What is their master plan? What is the natural goal of any monopoly? (…) Profit through power. Expansion through force and leverage. Protect assets with lies and deceit. (anything missing?)

The treaty for the Blind (and formerly Deaf) is almost certainly a victim of the MPAA’s insistent overriding goal of the destruction of real life Fair Use Rights. This is so much true that even educational Fair Use Rights are being challenged at every opportunity.

A tragedy along the way of the MPAAs goal (of eternal copymight?) are the reputations of all the politicians they have duped/fooled/tricked over the years. The MPAA is an association with a longer time-line than the term-limits of various politicians.


Comments were extremely inspiring. thanks (uncompromisable in positive way.)

?Pirate? is a ?how you look at it? kind of thing. Just another easy/lackadaisical/trecherous viewpoint. In the way a District-Attorney/prosecutor cannot say the word ?pirate? in concern/relation with ANY actual/real case thus use of the word pirate must (should) be rhetorical/general.

Every time the word pirate is used in relation to copyright it is likely a shameful event. Considering how steak-holders (what an easy word to divide up the involved parties into ?us and them?) have extended copyright terms in perpetuity and withheld/stolen/pirated(!?) American culture… its a crying shame.

The word ?pirates? is used in a strikingly similar way to how the word ?hippie? was used in the 70s. Look what Nixon did with that illusion? In what way do we need another useless expensive drug war? (Arrr…)

Translations of books is a very controversial thing. The translations of the official, approved by copyright, may be bland and even ?politically correct? but that same translation might be only an opinion (of the translator.) The skill level of the translator is also a factor.

?Does a Blind person want to listen to a government/copyright-holder certified translator or maybe some group/association that will try to translate exactly/literally the content? (this is a great/awesome topic as the ?official? translation of content often omits cuss words and controversial opinions/topics related to differences in culture.)

Would anyone want to listen to an official communist China translation of the Tienanmen Square incident? This is NOT just a copyright issue. Its an aspect of culture.

There is no other way to obtain such contrast in opinion other than bit-torrent/download/web-search from ?unauthorized? sources. None. Translation groups are popular and prolific currently but what about the future? What happens when Fair Use Rights are eliminated?

Downloaders are not pirates. They just want to learn. Learn to survive. Learn just to learn. There is so much more going on in respect to civilization and American Culture that in no way can this/it be expressed.

?All your base are belong to us? A famous great mistranslation quote from the game Zero Wing badly translated from Japanese. It exemplifies how many translations are just wrong or worse, just made up.

The way the MPAA treats/deals with the Blind and Deaf is just a symptom of a larger problem. Monopolies are frequently broken up. Its an American fact. Go for it.

Is it any surprise that even educational Fair Use Rights are being attacked along side the gutting of the Deaf and Blind treaties?

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