21 November 2012

IFLA, EIFL, ICA and German Library Association Statement on a Treaty for the Visually Impaired at SCCR 25

The first two days of the 25th meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) have seen Member States working in small groups to finalise a text for a treaty for visually impaired persons (VIP). New versions of the VIP working document have been made available to attendees at the beginning of each day. Library groups have welcomed access to these documents and continue to provide advice and expertise as needed to Member States involved in negotiations.

This morning (Wednesday 21st November) NGOs were given an opportunity to make comments. While there has been some positive progress in terms of finalising the document, there remain a number of areas where we would like to see more clarity that would help libraries provide access to information for the visually impaired and other reading-disabled persons. This morning IFLA gave the following statement, together with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), the International Council on Archives (ICA) and the German Library Association:

Thank you, Madam Chair. I speak on behalf of IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions; EIFL, Electronic Information for Libraries; ICA, the International Council on Archives, and the German Library Association.  We have, from its inception, supported the proposed treaty for the visually impaired that many Member States, the World Blind Union and related organizations are seeking; we believe that it is right, fair, just, and long overdue. We are therefore pleased that the Committee is making a concerted effort at this meeting to satisfactorily conclude an agreed proposal for a treaty that meets the human rights of visually impaired and print disabled people for equal access to information.  We urge this Committee on Friday to make its long-awaited recommendation to the WIPO General Assembly, which is to reconvene in its 22d Extraordinary Session here next month, to summon a diplomatic conference to negotiate the treaty in 2013.

Libraries and archives have three particular concerns about the current texts.  First is the definition of “authorized entity.”  Libraries and archives everywhere are major providers of services assisting blind and other reading disabled people to access information. Such services are a core part of our missions, our “institutional obligations,” to serve all members of our particular constituencies.  We believe strongly that the definition adopted for “authorized entity” in the treaty proposal and eventually in the treaty itself must explicitly and definitively recognize this core responsibility of all libraries and archives.  Second, we believe that the VIP treaty must not be used to expand or “privilege” the reach of the 3ST, but should include a balancing statement affirming the public interest in the application of the 3ST to avoid restrictive interpretations.  And third, we believe the VIP must include provisions establishing the primacy of limitations and exceptions over contracts and technological protection measures.    

Thank you, Madam Chair, for your attention.

You can also view the statement in Word or PDF version. 

Negotiations for a treaty text continue, with the aim to finalise a text by the end of the SCCR meeting on Friday. Exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives are due to be discussed on the afternoon of Thursday 22nd November.

CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Switzerland, SCCR25, WIPO, Access to information, Visually impaired, Print disabilities

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