Friday 5 June 2009

Good news for the "reading impaired"

According to WIPO press release UPD/2009/310, dated Tuesday, received Wednesday, read on Thursday and digested today,
"WIPO’s top copyright negotiating forum [The first team, rather than the reserves?] has agreed “to continue without delay” its work on facilitating the access of the blind, visually impaired (VIP) [Great acronym. Now we'll all have to find another term for 'very important person'] and other reading-disabled persons to copyright-protected works. This subject - as well as broader questions of limitations and exceptions to copyright law as they relate to libraries, archives and educational activities - is at the heart of current work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).

Discussions at the SCCR meeting from May 25-29, 2009 centered on a series of practical measures to facilitate access to copyright-protected materials by reading impaired persons, including a stakeholders’ platform, a key aim of which is to develop solutions to make published works available in accessible formats in a reasonable time frame [This is starting to sound a bit like Google Book ...]. All participants supported moving forward with this work [Not what I'd heard informally. If this is true, why is it necessary to record it here?].

A proposal was also submitted by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay regarding a draft treaty prepared by the World Blind Union (WBU). The SCCR decided to continue these discussions at its next session later this year to give member states time to reflect on the best way to move forward.

The SCCR noted progress in the work on the stakeholders’ platform and encouraged the WIPO secretariat to continue to advance this initiative. This platform is designed to help secure access for disabled persons to copyright-protected works. Two meetings convened under the auspices of WIPO in January and April 2009 brought together major stakeholders, including representatives of copyright holders and reading impaired persons, to explore the specific needs, concerns, and possible approaches to facilitating access to works in formats suitable for people with reading impairment.

The SCCR also addressed the issue of the protection of broadcasting organizations and requested the secretariat to organize a series of national and regional meetings. These meetings are to focus on the objectives, specific scope and object of protection of a possible new international instrument that would update the international protection of broadcasting organizations on a signal-based approach. The secretariat will also commission a study on the socio-economic dimension of the unauthorized use of signals [Have we suddenly changed the subject here, or are we talking about a signal-based approach to broadcasts and the VIPs?].

Moreover, the SCCR called for consultations to break the deadlock relating to negotiations on the international protection of performances in audiovisual media. The secretariat will also organize a series of national and regional seminars as well as background documentation on the issue [ditto]".
Documents relating to the SCCR meeting, including a Chairman’s summary, are available here.

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