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.

Incredible.

Filed Under: blind, copyright, fair use, treaty, trips, wipo


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  1. icon
    special-interesting (profile), 5 Jun 2013 @ 10:40pm

    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.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130603/15494223299/mpaa-oh-course-we-want-to-help-blind-re ad-more-just-as-long-as-you-dont-touch-copyright.shtml#c458

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