World Intellectual Property Organization member states have agreed on treaty language that will mean millions of visually impaired people around the world can gain access to special-formatted books. The agreement after years of haggling over copyright issues came during a diplomatic conference in Morocco going on throughout the past two weeks.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has often been the only industry group advocating on this issue at WIPO intergovernmental meetings over the past five years. CCIA was instrumental in building momentum in the early days of the negotiations in bringing Stevie Wonder to speak (and sing!) to the WIPO delegates in 2010 at the General Assembly.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Geneva Representative Nick Ashton-Hart:
“This was the right thing to do and we’re pleased WIPO members found a compromise that the visually impaired community believes will help reduce what they’ve called the “Book Famine” – less than 5 percent of the world’s books being available in formats the blind can read. This is critical to the visually impaired, but it also helps copyright stakeholders from musicians to distributors to fans, as it demonstrates that International copyright can respond when markets fail and ensure access to knowledge.
“The conclusion of this treaty is also an historic event from a legal perspective as this is the first time in history that a binding international treaty for copyright exceptions and limitations has been finalized.”