[nfbwatlk] Fw: Obama Sides With Blind in Copyright-Treaty Debate

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Thu Dec 17 03:13:30 UTC 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Marlaina Lieberg" <1guidedog at gmail.com>
To: <leadership at acb.org>; <wcb-l at wcbinfo.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 8:48 AM
Subject: [Wcb-l] Obama Sides With Blind in Copyright-Treaty Debate

> Copied from:
> http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/12/obama-blind-treaty/
> Obama Sides With Blind in Copyright-Treaty Debate
> By  David Kravets
> The Obama administration announced Tuesday it supports loosening
> international copyright
> protections to enable cross-border distribution of special-format reading
> materials
> for the blind, a move that puts it at odds with nearly all of U.S. 
> industry.
> The government announced its support for the underlying principle of the
> WIPO Treaty
> for Sharing Accessible Formats of Copyrighted Works for Persons Who are
> Blind or
> Have other Reading Disabilities.
> The announcement was made in Geneva
> (.pdf) before a subcommittee of the the World Intellectual Property
> Organization,
> which has about 180 members.
> The move comes as a broad spectrum of American enterprise, ranging from
> major software
> makers and book publishers to motion picture and music companies, have
> opposed the
> proposed international treaty that
> would make books more accessible to the blind
> . The chief complaint is that the treaty creates a bad precedent by
> loosening copyright
> restrictions, instead of tightening them as have every other international
> copyright
> treaty.
> "We recognize that some in the international copyright community believe
> that any
> international consensus on substantive limitations and exceptions to
> copyright law
> would weaken international copyright law," Justin Hughes, a Department of
> Commerce
> senior adviser, told the WIPO on Tuesday. "The United States does not 
> share
> that
> point of view."
> But the administration was careful Tuesday not to alienate U.S. industry
> even as
> it supported the blind and visually impaired. For example, Hughes
> acknowledged that
> the government was willing to strengthen international copyright laws in
> other regards.
> "The United States is committed to both better exceptions in copyright law
> and better
> enforcement of copyright law," Hughes said. "Indeed, as we work with
> countries to
> establish consensus on proper, basic exceptions within copyright law, we
> will ask
> countries to work with us to improve the enforcement of copyright. This is
> part and
> parcel of a balanced international system of intellectual property."
> Toward that end, the United States is one of the lead negotiators of a
> proposed international
> accord that the European Union suggested was too friendly to business. A
> leaked EU
> document connected to the Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement 
> suggested
> that
> the Obama administration's "
> overriding object" is to "facilitate the continued development of industry
> ."
> The documents suggest the United States might want ISPs around the world 
> to
> punish
> suspected, repeat downloaders with a system of "graduated response" - code
> for a
> three-strikes policy that results in digital copyright offenders 
> eventually
> being
> disconnected from the internet, with the ISP alone deciding what 
> constitutes
> infringement
> and fair use.
> Regarding the treaty for the blind, the proposal would sanction the
> cross-border
> sharing of DRM-protected digitized books - without payment to the
> publisher - that
> tens of thousands of blind and visually disabled people read with devices
> and tools
> like the Pac Mate, Book Port and Victor Reader.
> Many WIPO nations, most in the industrialized world including England, the
> United
> States and Canada, have copyright exemptions that usually allow nonprofit
> companies
> to market copyrighted works without permission. 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 by nonprofit groups.
> The treaty seeks to free up the cross-border sharing of the books for the
> blind.
> Usually, they are published in a universal Daisy format, which includes
> features
> like narration and digitized Braille. It could take a year or more before 
> an
> international
> consensus might be reached.
> Warmly,
> Marlaina
> I use to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure!
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