Some EU Nations Still Haven't Implemented The 2013 Marrakesh Treaty For The Blind

from the copyright-trumps-compassion dept

The annals of copyright are littered with acts of extraordinary stupidity and selfishness on the part of the publishers, recording industry and film studios. But few can match the refusal by the publishing industry to make it easier for the blind to gain access to reading material that would otherwise be blocked by copyright laws. Indeed, the fact that it took so long for what came to be known as the Marrakesh Treaty to be adopted is a shameful testimony to the publishing industry's belief that copyright maximalism is more important than the rights of the visually impaired. As James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), wrote in 2013, when the treaty was finally adopted:

It difficult to comprehend why this treaty generated so much opposition from publishers and patent holders, and why it took five years to achieve this result. As we celebrate and savor this moment, we should thank all of those who resisted the constant calls to lower expectations and accept an outcome far less important than what was achieved today.

Even once the treaty was agreed, the publishing industry continued to fight against making it easier for the visually impaired to enjoy better access to books. In 2016, Techdirt reported that the Association of American Publishers was still lobbying to water down the US ratification package. Fortunately, as an international treaty, the Marrakesh Treaty came into force around the world anyway, despite the US foot-dragging.

Thanks to heavy lobbying by the region's publishers, the EU has been just as bad. It only formally ratified the Marrakesh Treaty in October of this year. As an article on the IPKat blog explains, the EU has the authority to sign and ratify treaties on behalf of the EU Member States, but it then requires the treaty to be implemented in national law:

In this case, the EU asked that national legislators reform their domestic copyright law by transposing the 2017/1564 Directive of 13 September 2017. The Directive requires that all necessary national measures be implemented by 12 October 2018. Not all member states complied by this deadline, whereby the EU Commission introduced infringement procedures against them for non-compliance. The list of the non-compliant countries is as follows:

Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, UK

The IPKat post points out that some of the countries listed there, such as the UK and France, have in fact introduced exceptions to copyright to enable the making of accessible copies to the visually impaired. It's still a bit of mystery why they are on the list:

At the moment, the Commission has not published details regarding the claimed non-compliance by the countries listed. We cannot assume that the non-compliance proceedings were launched because the countries failed to introduce the exceptions in full, because countries can also be sanctioned if the scope of the exception implemented is too broad, so much so that it is disproportionately harmful to the interest of rightsholders. So we will have to wait and see what part of the implementation was deemed not up to scratch by the Commission.

As that indicates, it's possible that some of the countries mentioned are being criticized for non-compliance because they were too generous to the visually impaired. If it turns out that industry lobbyists are behind this, it would be yet another astonishing demonstration of selfishness from publishers whose behavior in connection with the Marrakesh Treaty has been nothing short of disgusting.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2018 @ 8:35pm

    Copyright advocates - they'll chop off your hands after accusing you of piracy, then tax you for the gloves that you are unable to wear.

    Because the fact that you can't use or purchase a product is apparently not a sufficiently valid reason for them to not have your money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    john e miller, 5 Dec 2018 @ 10:39pm

    IP Kat on EU

    Hi! Glyn -- hope you read my comment on the IP KAT article:

    https://tinyurl.com/ycv9xy9t

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      glyn moody, 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:27am

      Re: IP Kat on EU

      The visually-impaired are clearly a "special case" regardless of numbers. To argue otherwise is callous in the extreme, and unworthy of elected officials.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        john e miller, 6 Dec 2018 @ 10:07pm

        Re: Re: IP Kat on EU

        I would generally agree with you but then why do the WBU and others continue to publish that there are 300 million persons worldwide with a print disability when the number of visually impaired and persons with dyslecxia etc. is easily in the 1 billion range? I have asked themat WBU and at WIPO why they repeatedly stick with the 300 million number from which I can only infer that they see some problem if the 1 billion number gets out there.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        john e miller, 7 Dec 2018 @ 3:48pm

        Re: IP Kat on EU

        From a presenstation by Prof. L_Helfer one of the authors of the WBU Guide to the Marrakesh Treaty in a Statement to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
        18th Session – Geneva – 14 August 2017

        "The Treaty seeks to end the global “book famine” – a worldwide lack of printed works and cultural materials in accessible formats that affects nearly 300 million people around the globe, especially those living in developing countries."

        Do you think 300 million is an accurate number when WHO (2010) has said that there are 285 million persons worldwide with a visual impairment who would qualify under Article 3 of the Marrakesh Treaty?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        john e miller, 9 Dec 2018 @ 7:21pm

        Re: IP Kat on EU

        If it was regardless of numbers why don't they just say 1 billion Marrakesh Treaty Article 3 eligible persons worldwide rather than that bunko 300 million number they prefer to use?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 9:35am

      Re: IP Kat on EU

      Falling back on the 3 steps test to *limit* access to works is really, really obnoxious.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        john e miller, 6 Dec 2018 @ 10:11pm

        Re: Re: IP Kat on EU

        Persons supporting the treaty both before and after its adoption routinely lowball the number of eligible persons under Article 3 of the Treaty which, from the get go, I have said may be because they KNOW that the 'certain special cases clause' has been defined at the WTO as to be "Narrow in both quantity and quality".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 3:15am

    But if the treaty is for the blind... How do they know that the listed nations haven't implemented the things it contained. Its not like they can see the treaty!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 4:57am

    Big Content have not seen the potential.

    Now, if you're doing your negotiations in dark rooms, why not enlist the blind to help you out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 5:59am

    this isn't the only area, in my opinion, of total selfishness either! there are more and more tv movies and series being shown that have no subtitles for the hearing impaired. this is just as disgraceful behavior! the industries concerned concentrate so much on shutting down 'fan sites' run by those who, for free spend their time trying to make subtitles available to hearing impaired watchers BECAUSE THE INDUSTRIES DONT! how can anyone with an iota of sense and decency even contemplate this? it must cost almost nothing to make subtitles officially available, but if it is too costly and too inconvenient, why the hell stop anyone/everyone else from making them available, for free, so that more people can enjoy the experience? it seems to me, yet again, that these industries rate CONTROL far higher than having a larger, more content audience, with cost never even entering the equation!! selfishness is nowhere near a strong enough word for these assholes!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:50am

    It's interesting (though not surprising) to see that many of the world's poorest countries have signed up, but none of the richest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 8:13am

    Even once the treaty was agreed, the publishing industry continued to fight against making it easier for the visually impaired to enjoy better access to books. In 2016, Techdirt reported that the Association of American Publishers was still lobbying to water down the US ratification package.

    Wow. Publishing interests were just fine with abusing the mechanism of international treaties to ram the DMCA down our nation's throat after we had considered it through the proper channels and rejected it. But now that the shoe's on the other foot, just watch them look for any excuse they can find to derail it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 5:26pm

    I'm sure Article 11 and Article 13 will be implemented in record time by the EU.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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