RE: USA, Canada and the EU attempt to kill treaty to protect blind people’s access to written material

To introduce Copyright to enable the visually impaired to exchange and share cross border their collections of accessible format books.

This stream relates to WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights at its 18th meeting in Geneva this last week. I was there as WBU’s Observer and inspite of recent US Government consultations which were well
supported by George Kerscher, Jim Fruchterman and Scott La Barre, the US
Delegation were very much in the front leading opposition to WBU’s efforts
to introduce a Treaty on Copyright and the Visually Impaired.

Supported by Daisy, IFLA Libraries for People with Print Disability Section and ICEVI
(International Council of Educators of the Visually Impaired), the WBU
Treaty Proposal aims to enable, through Copyright Exceptions, the free
cross-border exchange and sharing of accessible format books in braille,
large print and Daisy audio etc.

A powerful example was presented to Delegates in Geneva last week by Pablo
Lecuona, Founder Director of Tiflolibros in Argentina. He told Delegates
attending SCCR 18 at WIPO that his library had 65,000 accessible books and
that ONCE in Madrid had 103,000 accessible books but the tens of thousands
of visually impaired readers in the 19 Spanish speaking countries of Latin
America could not share these cross-border because of copyright
restrictions. Furthermore it is affecting visually impaired citizens in the
USA, for example there are over three million Chinese living there and
some of them must surely be blind and would presumably enjoy reading
Mandarin books. Etc., etc. and all the other Diaspora communities and
their VI members.

It is the exchange and sharing of current collections, yet alone future
production, which is at the core of the WBU Treaty Proposal as it would make
much more leisure and education reading available.

So it is somewhat disappointing that the richer countries around the world
are blocking this initiative because of pressure from the publishers who
have no financial interests in this because they have voluntarily opted out
of producing in accessible formats for this sizeable reading constituency.

So please explain to your Members of Congress and other Politicians across
the richer countries that our own production under Copyright Exceptions is
not harming the Rights Holders and is urgently needed to be shared between
VI organisations cross border. Please copy me with your mails
in order that WBU can track the campaign.


With many thanks,


Christopher Friend
WBU Strategic Objective Leader – Accessibility
Chair WBU Global Right to Read Campaign
Programme Development Advisor
Sightsavers International.