[nfbwatlk] Fw: Copyright Owners Fight Planto ReleaseE-Books for theBlind

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Wed Dec 16 02:57:24 UTC 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Marlaina Lieberg" <1guidedog at gmail.com>
To: <wcb-l at wcbinfo.org>
Cc: "Gary The Board Guy" <gary at traico.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 1:06 PM
Subject: [Wcb-l] Copyright Owners Fight Planto ReleaseE-Books for theBlind

> >From Mitch Pomerantz:
> Copyright Owners Fight Planto ReleaseE-Books for theBlind
> Colleagues:
> Eric Bridges, ACB's Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, is
> representing our interests this week at the WIPO Conference in Gemeva,
> Switzerland.  As I receive developments I'll forward them.
> Copyright Owners Fight Plan to Release E-Books for the Blind
> By David Kravets
> Wired News, December 11, 2009
> A broad swath of American enterprise ranging from major software makers to
> motion picture and music companies are joining forces to oppose a new
> international treaty that would make books more accessible to the blind.
> On Monday, dozens of nations will meet in Geneva to consider adopting the
> WIPO Treaty for Sharing Accessible Formats of Copyrighted Works for 
> Persons
> Who are Blind or Have other Reading Disabilities. The proposal before a
> subcommittee of the roughly 180 World Intellectual Property Organization
> members would sanction the cross- border sharing of DRM-protected 
> digitized
> books that tens of thousands of blind and visually disabled people read 
> with
> devices and tools like the Pac Mate, Book Port and Victor Reader.
> "This treaty would be the first one that is not done for the copyright
> owner, but for the user of the works - for the blind to make a copyrighted
> work accessible," says Manon Ress, a policy analyst at Knowledge Ecology
> International, a Washington, D.C.-based human rights lobby that helped
> spearhead the proposal.
> But that prospect doesn't sit well with American business. The U.S.
> Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest lobby representing 3 million
> businesses, argues that the plan being proposed by Brazil, Ecuador and
> Paraguay, "raises a number of serious concerns," chief among them the
> specter that the treaty would spawn a rash of internet book piracy.
> The treaty also creates a bad precedent by loosening copyright 
> restrictions,
> instead of tightening them as every previous copyright treaty has done, 
> said
> Brad Huther, a chamber director. Huther concluded in a Dec. 2 letter to 
> the
> U.S. Copyright office that the international community "should not engage 
> in
> pursuing a copyright- exemption based paradigm."
> Echoing that concern, the Motion Picture Association of America and the
> Recording Industry of America told the Copyright Office last month that 
> such
> a treaty would "begin to dismantle the existing global treaty structure of
> copyright law, through the adoption of an international instrument at odds
> with existing, longstanding and well- settled norms."
> The proposal before the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related
> Rights could free up thousands of book titles to millions of blind people 
> in
> WIPO-member nations - without payment to the publisher.
> Many WIPO nations, most in the industrialized world including England, the
> United States and Canada, have copyright exemptions that usually allow
> non-profit companies to market copyrighted works without permission. They
> scan and digitize books into the so-called universal Daisy format, which
> includes features like narration and digitized Braille.
> The Daisy Corp. Consortium, a Swiss-based international agency, controls
> formatting worldwide and has some 100 companies under its direction across
> the globe. The largest catalog rests in the United States, in which three
> non-profits, including the Library of Congress, host some half million
> digital titles produced by federal grants and donations.
> As it now stands, none of the nations may allow persons outside their
> borders to access these works, which are usually doled out for little or 
> no
> charge. The treaty seeks to free up the cross-border sharing of the books
> for the blind.
> "People who oppose copyright exemptions oppose exemptions on principle 
> that
> there should be no exemptions of copyright law," says George Kerscher,
> Daisy's general secretary. "They should have sole right and discretion to 
> do
> what they want with their intellectual property. To a great extent, the
> opposition to the treaty is based on that principle.
> "
> To receive any reading materials, the blind and disabled must prove their
> condition, he said. In the United States, Knowledge Ecology International
> estimates about 5 percent of published books have been transformed to the
> Daisy format.
> Google is the only major U.S. corporation to side with the blind in the
> international tussle. In filings with the Copyright Office, the company
> called for American copyright holders to see past their doctrinal 
> opposition
> to weakening copyright protections.
> "We are concerned that some of the comments are simply stating opposition 
> to
> a larger agenda of limitations and exceptions," (.pdf) Google's chief
> copyright officer, William Paltry, wrote this month.
> "We believe this is an unproductive approach to solving what is a 
> discrete,
> long-standing problem that affects a group that needs and deserves the
> protections of the international community."
> Not surprisingly, U.S. book publishers are the harshest critics of the
> proposal. The Association of American Publishers, which represents about 
> 300
> publishers large and small, argue the treaty is not necessary. The
> publishers suggest the blind and disabled should pay for their 
> materials --
> the only way the market for such products could flourish.
> "Under the proposed draft treaty, where it appears that privileged copies
> could be made even where accessible versions were commercially available,
> copyright owners would have understandable doubts about the wisdom of
> investing in the production of accessible versions for the market," the
> association's vice president, Allan Adler, wrote the Copyright Office on
> Dec. 4.
> "Under these circumstances, publishers not unreasonably hesitate and 
> wonder
> whether they can expect such a market to flourish when potential customers
> would still have the option of relying upon a statutory exception to get 
> an
> accessible version of a work without having to pay for it," Adler added.
> Dan Burke, a 52-year-old blind man from Montana and a self-described "book
> worm," does not agree with the publishers.
> Burke, a victim of a retinal disease that blinded him decades ago, often
> acquires books and poems at Bookshare, an online nonprofit offering about
> 60,000 titles in exchange for $50 in annual dues and other volunteer work.
> Burke says none of the rank-and-file commercially available e-readers,
> including the Kindle, are adequately equipped for the blind.
> "You have to be able to see to use these, to turn the machine on and
> navigate menus," says Burke.
> Amazon, however, said this week that it would soon produce a blind-
> accessible Kindle, one with an audible menu and large font for the 
> visually
> impaired.
> But Amazon, the Kindle's maker, gives book authors the option of disabling
> the read-aloud function, notes Burke, a board member for the National
> Federation of the Blind, which supports the treaty. The Authors Guild, an
> advocacy group for writers, argued earlier this year that reading a book
> aloud counts as an unauthorized public performance.
> "Information is what we want. Information is the power to become
> economically viable members of society," Burke said. "This is a world in
> which if you don't have money you usually don't have access."
> http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/12/blind_block
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