Slight Progress Made On Treaty To Help The Blind Not Get Screwed Over By Copyright

from the but-still-a-long-way-to-go dept

We've covered the efforts by many people over a very, very long period of time to set up a special treaty to help the blind and people who have other reading disabilities have greater access to works that may be covered by copyright. While the US administration rushes through things like ACTA and TPP, it has slow rolled this particular treaty -- bouncing back and forth between supporting such a treaty and not supporting it. Part of this issue, it appears, is that some of the key people in the Obama administration who recognized the value of such an agreement left, and the people who took over are known for their extreme maximalist positions. And, the concern with creating this treaty is that (*gasp*) it might open the door to governments giving people back their rights to make use of products they own.

So it took some people by surprise that the US showed up at the latest WIPO meeting apparently ready to support an agreement. Of course, the devil is in the details and the details showed that the US still didn't want anyone to call the thing a treaty, even as everyone else wants it to be a treaty. The US is also acting very tentatively on this, making it clear that it wants "final review" of the text, and that it might walk away if big copyright holders protest they don't like what they see. After some pressure from just about everyone else, the US has agreed that it will at least show up for discussions on making the agreement an actual treaty -- and that's quite reasonably being seen as progress.

The actual conference to discuss all of this will be held in June, and between now and then, expect all sorts of posturing (mostly by the US) in which they try to limit what's in the agreement and water it down as much as possible. The end result is unlikely to be particularly interesting. It's likely to be very limited and carve out all sorts of things (for example, it will only apply to text, rather than "audio-visual" works -- because, apparently, the MPAA has no interest in making its products more accessible). Having seen all of the scheming and roadblocks US officials have put up over the years concerning what should be a fairly straightforward agreement to help people who are disabled access more content, I'm not particularly hopeful anything useful will come out of this process in the end. But, the big copyright industry can rest easy at night knowing that blind people won't be able to access their materials.
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Filed Under: blind, copyright, disabilities, exceptions, fair use, geneva, treaty
Companies: wipo


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  1. identicon
    Beech, 20 Dec 2012 @ 1:18am

    Re: Re: So, nothing happens until June, then you'll tell us nothing happened.

    BAD! Bad AC! Don't respond to him, just report and move on with your life.

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