by Mike Masnick

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

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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2013 @ 2:45am

    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??

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