EU & US Negotiators Looking To Hold Blind & Deaf Access Rights Hostage To Get A New ACTA/SOPA

from the sad dept

We already talked about how US officials have been working against a treaty to allow more access to copyrighted works for the disabled, but the latest report from Jamie Love highlights an even more nefarious part of the strategy. To hold the agreement hostage in order to backdoor in certain elements of ACTA/SOPA. This is mainly being led by the EU, but with support from the US. And the main part is putting lots of red tape around any exceptions -- and tying it to more standardized enforcement, which is what ACTA was really all about:
The European Union primarily, but with some backing from the US government, is holding blind people's access hostage in and effort to introduce new global enforcement norms for copyright. If you look at most copyright exceptions in most countries, the system works as follows. If the exception applies, an activity is not considered infringement. If you do something that is not protected by the exception, you are infringing, and all sorts of bad things can happen, depending upon your national laws for infringement, which include both criminal and civil sanctions. That is how the US exceptions work for blind persons, and that's how nearly all national exceptions work for blind persons. But here at WIPO, the EU wants page after page of detailed regulation of anyone who uses an exception. The expanding verbiage of the agreement is almost entirely about introducing ACTA and SOPA like enforcement provisions into this agreement.
We've already seen the EU try to backdoor ACTA provisions in elsewhere, so it should come as little surprise that it would also seek to abuse a treaty to help the disabled to get to the same point as well. Shameful, but not surprising.

Another report on the meetings, from David Hammerstein at the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) goes into more detail on the EU's moves during the negotiations:
Instead of trying to help one of the world´s most culturally disadvantaged groups the EU´s copyright specialists guided by Commissioner of Internal Market Michel Barnier are busy launching violent preemptive strikes against the possibility of a clear, exception to copyright for the non-profit production and distribution of works formatted for visually impaired persons.

In Geneva this week the EU made one negative proposal after another to block a global agreement that would greatly improve access to culture for the visually impaired. All of them have been rejected by the organizations defending blind and disabled persons rights. Most of them are “copy and paste” proposals from the publishing industry´s wish list. Not one EU proposal this week in Geneva was to facilitate the right to read of disabled persons as guaranteed by international law. Not one member of the EU´s delegation was a human rights or disability expert; all were hard-line copyright apologists.
Basically, they seem to see this as a war, where any exception is seen as "giving in" on copyright. This is insane. This is not about rational minds looking for the proper calibration of the law, or understanding the real impacts of the law. This appears to be about pure copyright religion, where "more" must be better, and any exception, no matter how reasonable, is seen as a sin. Shameful.
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Filed Under: access, acta, blind, deaf, sopa

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  1. icon
    Keroberos (profile), 23 Oct 2012 @ 8:45am

    Re: "anyone who uses an exception" -- Those will multiply!

    Either you didn't read the proposed changes--or you're just outright spreading FUD.

    None of the more troubling proposed changes have anything to do about limiting access to just the disabled--or defining disability. They're about giving some undefined, nebulous "someone" to much power over the exception process.

    And it is just outright FUD claiming that "Mike and his grifter and pirate pals" are wanting this treaty just so they can pirate--anyone that wants to pirate something already is.

    Are people abusing disability laws? Sure they are. How big of a percentage are? Pretty low. What percentage are doing it over something as trivial as getting a parking space? Microscopic. What percentage would abuse this treaty? Most likely microscopic, I doubt most people would consider a book or a movie reformatted for the use of the blind and deaf to be a substitute for the original (I don't know about you, but I can't read braille, and a movie with extra audio for the blind would be too annoying).

    Plus, how did this become an argument about piracy? There's nothing in this treaty that says anything created for the disabled has to be free--it just says it has to be made by an "authorized entity", described here:
    [Authorized entity means an entity that is authorized or recognized by the government to provide education, instructional training, adaptive reading or information access to beneficiary persons on a non-profit basis. It also includes a government institution or non-profit organization that provides the same services to beneficiary persons as one of its primary activities or institutional obligations.]

    [establishes and follows] [may maintain] its own rules and procedures
    i) to establish that the persons it serves are beneficiary persons;
    ii) to limit to beneficiary persons and/or authorized entities its distribution and making available of accessible format copies;
    iii) to discourage the reproduction, distribution and making available of unauthorized copies [including by informing authorized entities and beneficiary persons that any abuse will lead to stopping the supply of accessible format copies]; and
    iv) to maintain reasonable care in, and records of, its handling of copies of works, while respecting the privacy of beneficiary persons in accordance with Article H; in the case of an authorized entity that serves a rural or small population and does not distribute accessible format copies in electronic form for whom record keeping would constitute an undue burden such record keeping may be appropriately adjusted.
    [v) An authorized entity carrying out cross-border exchanges of accessible format copies establishes and follows rules and procedures which enable the provision of anonymous and aggregated data relating to such exchanges for the evaluation, when appropriate, of their volume and periodicity.] [This provision shall not apply to developing and least developed countries, nor to governmental authorized entities, libraries or educational institutions.]]

    In the case of an authorized entity that engages only in activities under Article[s] [C] [C and E], [as regards physical copies] items iii to v? iv to v? shall be discretionary.
    Nothing about anyone getting anything for free there, plus all kinds of things about not redistributing works obtained under this treaty.

    And here's the part defining "disability":

    A beneficiary person is a person who

    (a) is blind

    (b) has a visual impairment or a perceptual or reading disability which cannot be improved to give visual function substantially equivalent to that of a person who has no such impairment or disability and so is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability; or

    (c) is otherwise unable, through physical disability, to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes to the extent that would be normally acceptable for reading,

    regardless of any other disabilities.
    Not much grounds for abuse there. Except for fraud, which is already illegal.

    Exceptions are necessary. You use them every day (without them you could get sued for defamation for just about every post you make). So, they're only good when they benefit you, but not when they benefit someone else?

    The self-contradictions some people can maintain just amaze me. Did you have to take class to be able to do that? Or were you just born that way?

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