by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 3rd 2013 3:02pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 29th 2013 2:33pm
White House Makes It Impossible For The Blind To Sign Petition Supporting Copyright Treaty For The Blind
from the well-isn't-that-convenient? dept
The glitch, the group says, is in those often annoying tests that require users to type in a set of numbers and letters to prove they are human. On the White House web site, blind users can select an audio version of the test, but the audio is incomprehensible, according to federation spokesman Chris Danielsen.That's certainly convenient for an administration that has increasingly moved away from its earlier stance that it supported this treaty. Now, making it almost impossible for the actual stakeholders to express their opinion really should drive home why increased accessibility is important. Hopefully the White House will quickly fix this bug, but more importantly, it would be nice if they actually supported the damn treaty.
And if users want to send email notifying the White House about the problem, well, that also requires a computer-human test with garbled audio, too, he said.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 24th 2013 3:51pm
from the where-do-you-stand dept
With the next round of negotiations set to take place soon in Morocco, a "We the People" petition has been set up to ask President Obama to side with the blind, rather than the MPAA.
Less than 1% of printed works globally are accessible to the blind. This is because laws around the world bar printed material from being turned into formats useable by the blind and visually impaired, or for such material to be shared across borders.It may be difficult to get to 100,000 signatures, but We The People petitions have previously been successful in getting the administration to come out against SOPA and against the Library of Congress' decision to say that unlocking mobile phones is a form of copyright infringement.
That’s why 186 countries will soon convene in Morocco to finalize a Treaty that would empower the world’s nearly 300 million blind citizens with the same rights to read, learn, and earn that the sighted enjoy. However, huge and powerful corporations – many wholly unaffected by the proposed Treaty – are working to fatally weaken it or block its adoption.
Ask the President to compel US negotiators to fight for a strong Treaty that gives blind people equal access to books and doesn't burden those who want to provide them. Please sign today!
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 20th 2013 7:50am
Trade Group Representing Many Large Companies Claims That Exceptions For The Blind Would 'Cast Aside' Copyright
from the wtf? dept
Of course, it does no such thing. All it does is provide extremely limited situations in which copyright restrictions would be limited for the sake of making it easier for vision-impaired people to access works. They also claim that it relies on "hasty conclusions" which is flat out laughable, since the treaty has been under discussion for almost three decades, but has been regularly blocked by organizations like those mentioned above. Business Europe's real complaint seems to be that it just doesn't like the people who like this treaty.
... it is strongly supported by the same group of NGOs and advanced emerging economy countries that pursue a general IPR-weakening agenda at WIPO and other international forums.Got that? Those who argue that providing more rights to the public support this very minor place where more rights would be provided to the vision-impaired public, and we can't have that. No, no. They also, rather bizarrely, claim that some countries who are likely to sign on to this treaty "do not provide any copyright protection whatsoever." Jamie Love at KEI asks exactly which countries they're talking about. The statement from Business Europe is nothing but fear mongering. If a country doesn't provide any copyright protection at all, then why would it even care about a treaty whose focus is providing exceptions to copyright?
The level of freakout from these giant companies over helping the blind is really quite incredible.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, May 14th 2013 12:03am
from the hopeful-signs dept
If you wanted an indication of just how much copyright has moved on from being a dry and boring topic of interest only to a few specialist lawyers to an exciting area full of surprising twists and turns worthy of a soap opera, you could do worse than look at what's been happening in Colombia recently.
A year ago, the Colombian government rushed through a really bad copyright law, known as "Ley Lleras 2", pretty much as a welcome gift for President Obama, who was about to visit the country. It did this by invoking an "emergency procedure" that let it ignore nation-wide protests that had followed the presentation of a similar bill earlier, the original "Ley Lleras". In January of this year, Ley Lleras 2 was struck down by Colombia's Constitutional Court, but for purely procedural reasons, rather than because of its substance. Before this, however, another bill had been prepared that sought to fix some of the glaring problems with Ley Lleras 2. Even though the latter has been blocked for the moment, the other bill is proceeding:
This Bill contains provisions regarding limitation and exceptions to Copyright Law. Last 16 of April the Bill passed the second debate in the House of Representatives. Now it is pending for debate in the Senate.
As infojustice.org points out in the post quoted above, this "other" Colombian copyright bill has already had a number of positive effects:
This Bill contains six articles regarding limitations and exceptions. Article 1 mandates an exception for temporary copies made as part of a technological process in some specific circumstances. Article 2 mandates an exception in favor of people with sight or hearing disabilities. Article 3 mandates an exception in favor of libraries and archives allowing them to lend a work. Article 4 mandates an exception in favor of parody. Article 5 mandates an exception in favor of educational institutions allowing the public performance of a work under certain circumstances. Finally, Article 6 repeals all provisions contrary to the ones mandated by this Bill.
First, after the petition made by Red PaTodos, this Bill is being publicly debated. This is a positive point because previous copyright bills have been enacted through processes without public discussions. Second, some sectors of society other than copyright scholars have engaged in the discussion, and they have manifested their concerns regarding this bill. For instance, radio shows and news organizations that use parody as a way to inform people or make political criticism have raised their concerns about the scope of the parody exception and its effects in limiting parody. This is positive because it shows that different sectors of the society have realized the importance of copyright law in their daily activities. Third, the Colombian Parliament has the copyright law in their legislative agenda, and it has realized the importance of having a balanced copyright system.
It's too early to guess what the final outcome of these two interlocking bills moving through the parliamentary system will be -- there's still plenty of time for yet more surprises. But the fact that there has been some open discussion of the proposed law, and that people are becoming aware of and engaged by the key issues raised by it, offers some hope that Colombia might end up with a better-balanced copyright system than either of the original Ley Lleras proposals would have provided.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 8th 2013 8:37am
intellectual property owners association
Intellectual Property Owners Association Against Helping The Blind Because It Would 'Set A Dangerous Precedent'
from the encouraging-rights-for-the-public-would-do-what-now? dept
The amazing thing is that they're not even subtle about this. Last year, we noted that in a video by Jamie Love showing Alan Adler, a VP for the Association of American Publishers, Adler was quite upfront about the fact that they're against this agreement for the blind not because of the blind folks who need the help, but rather because they're afraid of even opening the door to expanding things like fair use -- which he claims is some sort of attack on copyright.
Jamie Love has now called our attention to a letter sent by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) to Teresa Stanek Rea, the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the USPTO, concerning this treaty, in which the IPO is equally explicit that its main complaint is any expansion of user rights like fair use is simply not acceptable. From the full letter, which is also embedded below:
IPO supports international action that addresses the needs of the visually impaired in meaningful ways, but we are concerned about the VIP treaty as currently drafted, focused exclusively on L/Es and not on the rights holders whose copyrights are at stake. We are also concerned about the potentially negative, precedential effect that a one-sided, exceptions-focused VIP treaty may have on parallel developments at WIPO and in other international negotiationsThis is all sorts of hilarious. After all, the folks at IPO have long supported incredibly one-sided agreements that only focus on the expansion of copyright, and they're among those who have actively fought any attempt to include user rights (they prefer to call them "limitations and exceptions") in such agreements. So for them to suddenly step up and complain that this one small, narrowly focused agreement is a problem because it "only" focuses on such things, without regards to their "rights holders whose copyrights are at stake" is pretty funny. Why has IPO never been concerned about the rights of the public and users in every other such agreement?
Our main concern about the VIP treaty, as currently drafted, is that it addresses L/Es to copyrights in isolation, without parallel provisions addressing IP holders’ rights. The proposed VIP treaty would create specific L/Es to copyright protection, with the aim of broadening access to print works for the visually impaired. However, it would not reflect the importance of protecting the copyright of those who created the work.Okay, so simple question for the IPO folks: in all future agreements that it supports, will it agree to support a "balance" that addresses user rights, rather than focusing on "copyrights in isolation without parallel provisions addressing users rights?"
The idea that the "rights" here are only one way and must be constantly ratcheted up is disingenuous and somewhat sickening. It's this position that has kept the blind community from having access to all sorts of works for decades. And during those decades, folks like IPO have supported all sorts of incredibly one-sided expansions to copyright law without concerns for any public or user rights.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 19th 2013 7:39pm
from the well-there-they-go-again dept
In Geneva this week the US government is taking a harder line in the WIPO negotiations for a treaty on copyright exceptions for the blind, and the reason is simple -- lobbyists for the MPAA and publishers have been all over the White House, demanding a retreat from compromises made in February, and demanding that the Obama Administration push new global standards for technical protection measures, strip the treaty text of any reference to fair use and fair dealing, and impose new financial liabilities on libraries that serve blind people. So far the industry lobbying has worked, and the White House has sided with publishers against blind people. Dan Pescod from the World Blind Union says the conditions the USA are imposing are so severe the treaty "won't work", if they are included in the final text.I guess they figure that blind people don't watch too many movies, so screw 'em. Apparently, it's so bad that even some US negotiators find the MPAA's actions unseemly.
Some US negotiators are uncomfortable with the intensive lobbying by the MPAA and other publishers, but dismayed by the lack of backbone in the White House to resist such pressures.Yup, those "fair use defenders" at the MPAA sure do have the public's interest in mind, huh?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 19th 2012 7:58pm
from the but-still-a-long-way-to-go dept
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
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.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 23rd 2012 5:08am
from the sad dept
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 worldÂ´s most culturally disadvantaged groups the EUÂ´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.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.
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 industryÂ´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 EUÂ´s delegation was a human rights or disability expert; all were hard-line copyright apologists.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 22nd 2012 3:16am
from the bad-news dept
The United State is playing a big major role, and led by David Kappos' USPTO, generally is aligned with the publishers in efforts to narrow the agreement and limit its benefits to persons with disabilities, and is increasingly isolated in its opposition to a decision that the nature of the "instrument" will be a treaty rather than a softer non-blinding recommendation or model law. One major objective of the US delegation is to exclude persons who are deaf. Another is to limit the exceptions to text, and exclude any audiovisual content or related rights. Both of these negotiating objectives are designed to keep the U.S. movie and television industry happy. The U.S. has also been seeking ways to support other publisher friendly provisions, even when they run counter to the robust exceptions found in U.S. law.Siding with big studios and publishers over the best interests of the blind and the deaf? How nice...