Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

WIPO Treaty to Create Global Access to Books for Readers who are Blind

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Delegates of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) will meet in Morocco June 17-28, 2013 to negotiate the terms of a treaty to define exceptions to copyright laws for people who are blind or visually impaired.  Only two weeks remain for negotiations to restore the treaty to one of creating a law to enable international sharing of materials for the blind.

Fred Schroeder, First Vice President of the World Blind Union, said:

“The purpose of this treaty is to ensure access to books for blind people and help end the “book famine” we face. WBU is alarmed that some of the negotiators have focused their efforts almost exclusively on crafting language around copyright protections that have nothing to do with the ability of authorized entities to produce books for the blind and visually impaired. The shift away from a treaty for the blind to a treaty focussed on rights holder protections has taken up precious negotiating time which should be directed at ensuring a treaty that makes it possible for materials to be shared internationally. For example the negotiators have spent considerable time talking about the concept of commercial availability when, in practice, there is no reason why an authorized entity would spend its limited resources to duplicate works in formats that already exist. Nevertheless, the introduction of concepts like commercial availability creates new complexities that detract from the treaty’s true purpose”.

The White House has an online petition for global accessibility and is collecting signatures until June 22, 2013.

For more information, see the statements from these organizations:

Posted on June 5, 2013
Updated on: February 8, 2018