Blind Copyright

I have been meaning to post on this for quite a while.

There was a meeting recently in Geveva of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) where there was a proposal to create a new treaty for blind (and other reading disabled) people to have cross-border access to digital books.

The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities.

And who wanted to kill discussion of the treaty? The US and other countries in “Group B” – including Australia.

Last week Obama worked with PhRMA to kill a Medical R&D Treaty at the World Health Organization. This week he is trying to kill a treaty for blind and reading disabled persons. This is not encouraging.

Disgraceful. Disgusting. Awful.


11 Responses

  1. Disgusting, but not surprising. America is, by & large, a huge consumer of nigh on everything but “intellectual property”, namely in the areas of music, movies, and software. Anything that weakens their control over IP is shut down as quickly as possible.

    Australia is beholden to them in this regard due to the shafting Howard gave us in the form of the FTA with the USA. Due to this we pretty much have to follow the USA in areas of intellectual property.

    Their fear is probably due to the long term effects changes in copyright are going to have on their economy. Crazy patents are starting to get thrashed world-wide instead of paying to make the companies (in general, US ones) go away, Microsoft’s monopoly is getting weaker as governments/businesses world-wide see the savings in open-source systems, and music/movie distribution channels are no longer controlled by the studio/distributor/record-store pipeline.

  2. Ben we were already signatories to the Berne Convention on IP before the FTA (not a fan of it either).

    The major change was to extend the “life” of IP from 50 to 70 years after the death of the “author” …

  3. Yes, but our FTA goes far beyond the Berne Convention (which I’m not as disgusted by as there is more good than bad in it). For example, read up on the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act”. It is an American law we need to enact a large portion of because of the FTA.

    For those of us that follow copyright issues (being a software developer for international applications, it is something I need to be familiar with) – there are much larger changes that the simple extension of copyright in the FTA.

  4. Yes, I agree, Ben, re FTA and Berne

    I was an instructional designer for 15 years (software and paper) and am aware of some of the issues – I still sell the occasional Learning and Assessment docs, I hold copyright to and I have successfully fought two IP cases …

    … I have to say though that the USA is one extreme and China is the other!

    … it disturbs me that the Yanks deal in copyrighting genomes – that should belong to all mankind – that’s me and you … but then I do have a belief that not everything should be market driven … especially health … I’m afraid learning never comes for free! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I prefer to live in a society rather than survive in an economy!

  5. “Disgraceful. Disgusting. Awful”

    Blind Freddy could have predicted that………..!


  6. Bloody Hell TB where were you when I needed you. I spent umpteen years trying to obtain assistance for kids with Aspergers..visual and auditory input deficits, those who couldn’t see/hear due to hiccups in the pathways to the brain.

    The work that I did was based on the Irlen theories..cranky as it seems, this did have some success. I found that most children had some sensitivity to the flickering effect of fluorescent lights.

    Look up to a fluorescent light..see the flickering?

    If you can then you are in an approximate 20% who do, the rest of the population do not see this.

    If you can see the flickering then you are a part of the way there to understanding how children with some forms of dyslexia see the printed page. It’s the same as the strobe effect.

  7. I see the flickering……………………………..Oh hang on its a moth !

  8. Walrus..deep sigh..just try it. As you would be aware many people report sensitivity to the flickering effect of fluorescents. Otherwise..for you, it’s a moth.

  9. Min………………….Its a moth………..!

  10. Min – package – joni cries – much love and hugs. I will not open them for they are for my Mum.

  11.’re allowed to open the package..just make certain that you’ve taped it back up again so that your Mum won’t know that you’ve stickybeaked ๐Ÿ™‚

    joni: no no no no no – I will leave them for mum to unwrap!

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