from the nice-try dept
So it appears that late last week, the MPAA realized that their whole stance on trying to block the approval of an important copyright treaty for helping the visually impaired and the blind gain more access to works was a PR nightmare, and decided to put out a joint statement with the National Federation for the Blind. Apparently, Chris Dodd’s initial weak attempt at claiming that it loved helping the blind, despite working hard to stop the treaty, wasn’t enough. Of course, the new “joint statement” is really more of the same when you peel back the basics.
We fully support a Treaty that facilitates access to published works in the form of text, notation and/or related illustrations for the blind and print disabled to address the book famine wherein the blind and print disabled have access to less than five percent of published works worldwide.
Then why have your lobbyists been the key blockade in that very agreement for years?
The Treaty must achieve two overarching goals: creating exceptions and limitations in copyright law which allow published works to be converted into formats accessible to the blind and print disabled, and permitting accessible copies of published works to be shared across international borders.
Yup. And that’s what’s been on the table for quite some time. And you know who’s made sure to hold it up? Yes, the MPAA.
Ultimately, we believe it should be for signatories to determine how they will implement the Treaty in accordance with their legal and administrative traditions. We underscore that this important Treaty must not be a vehicle for extraneous agendas. The goal remains, as it has been since the outset, a meaningful treaty to create greater access to published works for the visually impaired.
Again, then you shouldn’t have been blocking what’s on the table for a while. Furthermore, it’s kind of funny to see the MPAA now say that it wants countries to “determine how they will implement the Treaty in accordance with their legal and administrative traditions.” Because that’s the exact opposite position that the MPAA takes on other copyright efforts, like ACTA/TPP/etc. where the goal is to force the US’s way on other countries. Hell, the MPAA has spent years telling other countries they need to add “digital locks” provisions to copyright law, even when that was inconsistent with their own legal and administrative positions. Basically, the MPAA is lying here. They only want that “flexibility” when we’re talking about giving the public more rights, because they know they have enough sway with various governments such that those governments will block any meaningful changes to copyright law to allow more access to works by the blind.
From there, they list out a bunch of “core principles” that any treaty must follow, most of which are completely uncontroversial. But the two at the end are the ones that the MPAA is really focused on is:
4. Ensure that the treaty will be fully consistent with international copyright norms.
5. Avoid addressing extraneous copyright issues not directly related to creating greater access to published works for the blind and print disabled.
Basically, the MPAA will ensure that “international copyright norms” doesn’t allow for things like fair use or other rights of the public, preferring instead to lock everything down as much as possible. And the “extraneous copyright issues” are, basically, the rights of the public. The MPAA’s not a big fan of all that.
It’s great that the MPAA is now saying this kind of stuff, and it could have said all of this a couple years ago and we could have had this treaty in place way back then, because nothing they say goes against what’s been on the table. So, let’s see what happens in the next negotiations, and we’ll see how helpful MPAA lobbyists really are in terms of completing this process….