Agreement Reached on Provisions of New Treaty to Ease Access to Books for Visually Impaired Persons
UPDATE June 28: Statement of the Library Copyright Alliance at World Intellectual Property (WIPO) Organization Conference (PDF)
Library Copyright Alliance consists of ALA, ARL, and ACRL.
Negotiators from WIPO’s member states at the Diplomatic Conference in Marrakesh reached agreement in the early morning hours of June 26, 2013, on the substantive provisions of a new international treaty to improve access to books for blind, visually impaired, and other print disabled people.
The treaty is expected to be formally adopted in the plenary session tomorrow, June 27.
Jim Fruchterman, the head of Benetech, which runs Bookshare, a digital platform providing special format books for visually impaired people, said, “We are extremely excited about the treaty. We have the technology and we have the content, now we have a legal regime to make it possible for every person with print disabilities on the planet to get access to the books they need for education, employment, and social inclusion.”
Comments From Cory Doctorow (via BoingBoing)
Comments from the Library Copyright Alliance (ALA, ARL, ACRL):
The Treaty for the Blind creates a copyright exception and makes it legal to share accessible print copies with other nations. Before the landmark decision, antiquated international copyright laws made it difficult for developing nations—where 90 percent of the world’s 285 million blind live—to convert print materials into Braille books, audio recordings, or accessible digital files.
As a result of the treaty, the diversity of content available to the blind will increase dramatically around the world. Currently, only 5 percent of all printed materials in the U.S. are accessible to the blind; worldwide, only 1 percent of world’s blind have access to books, including job and educational materials.
“By passing what is an exception to copyright, the World Intellectual Property Organization demonstrated that there is international support for balance in copyright law,” said Carrie Russell, “We applaud the world delegates for approving a treaty that makes it possible for every visually-impaired person around the world to have fair access to reading materials.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.