May 22, 2022

Access: “Obstacles Arise for WIPO Treaty on Copyright for the Visually Impaired”

From a Post by Ed Lang on American University’s Intellectual Property Brief:

Delegates of the World Intellectual Property Organization are scheduled to meet in Marrakesh, Morocco from June 17-28 for a diplomatic conference to negotiate the terms of a treaty defining copyright exceptions for the visually impaired.  The delegates’ ultimate goal is to ensure the blind and visually impaired are provided with equal access to copyrighted materials as the rest of humanity.  The World Blind Union has endorsed the negotiations, stating that regardless of specific language, the treaty should facilitate a practical “system that allows the maximum access to materials by blind and visually impaired people throughout the world”.


The first obstacle regards cross-border transfers of copyrighted works in blind-accessible formats.


On the other side of the issue, several US industry groups have reiterated their vociferous opposition to any treaty for the visually impaired.  Among such groups, the Motion Picture Association of America has taken the lead in lobbying the US government to demand stricter protection for DRM technology in the treaty, as well as a complete removal of any reference to fair use or fair dealing in the text of the treaty.

Read the Complete Blog Post

Conference Web Site: Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities (via WIPO)

UPDATE (May 30, 2013): Joint Statement By National Federation of the Blind President Marc Maurer And MPAA Chairman Senator Chris Dodd On Importance Of Completing WIPO Visually Impaired Treaty


About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.