Notes and US Statement at WIPO SCCR 19 (December 14-18, 2009)

12:45 pm Geneva, Switzerland.

Today, December 15, 2009 at the 19th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights at WIPO, member states started to consider the proposed treaty to facilitate access to copyright materials for people with reading disabilities. Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay, the sponsors of the treaty briefly presented their proposal. We then had a break for lunch and attended an informal session. On the table right outside of the main room, I found a joint statement dated of SCCR 17 (November 2008) opposing the treaty.

“Existing flexibilities are not only adequate but preferable. There is no need for new international binding norms restricting the freedom to develop locally adapted exceptions and limitations”

Signed by the following 26 organizations: Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSPS), African Publishers Network (APNET), Asia Pacific Publishers Association (APPA), Bureau International de Societes Gerant les Droits d’enregistrement et de reproduction mecanique (BIEM), International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA), European Publishers Council (EPC), EUROCOPYA, European Writers’ Council (EWC), Federation of European Publishers (FEP), Federation of European Film Directors (FERA), International Federation of Actors (FIA), International Federation of Associations of Film Distributors (FIAD), International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Federation of Musicians (FIM), International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO), International Federation of Scholarly Publishers (IFSP) International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), International Group of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (ISTM), International Publishers Association (IPA), International Video Federation (IVF), Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA), and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN)

The right holders industries obviously did not even see the need to update last year statement of opposition to a treaty. It will probably always be the same. However, many member state delegations seem to have a better understanding of why the Blind and people with other reading disabilities need a treaty to allow the sharing across borders of specialized formats. The Latin American countries, Malaysia, India and many others seemed to be in favor of starting to work seriously on the treaty.


The delegation of Senegal has not changed its position since SCCR 18. Their preference is “a global approach for all development concerns relating to access to knowledge to be dealt with.

The European Commission is digging its heel (against the treaty). Supported by the UK and Australia.

Kenya is in the process of updating its laws [still?] and wants a holistic approach (i.e why focus on the need of the blind and visually impaired?). [In other words: opposes the treaty and does not care about blind people]

New Zealand “supports the stakeholders platform” [or the private sector initiative]. New Zealand approves of the intent of the treaty HOWEVER they have concerns that it would be setting up a minimum for an exception and might be too broad.

Japan wants to share its national experience.

Uruguay supports an international framework and wants the opponent to provide more details about their concerns.

Finally USA: Starts by announcing that their long statement will be online immediately at the PTO website.

First, the United States believes that the time has come for WIPO Members to work toward some form of international consensus on basic, necessary limitations and exceptions in copyright law for persons with print disabilities. This international consensus could take multiple forms, including a model law endorsed by the SCCR, a detailed Joint Recommendation to be adopted by the WIPO General Assemblies, and/or a multilateral treaty. The United States is open to discussing and exploring all these options.
We believe that a solution to the problem of cross-border distribution of special format materials, properly delineated to prevent abuses, would solve the foremost problems identified by the print disability and visually-impaired communities.
We recognize that some in the international copyright community believe that any international consensus on substantive limitations and exceptions to copyright law wouldweaken international copyright law. The United States does not share that point of view. The United States is committed to both better exceptions in copyright law and better enforcement of copyright law. Indeed, as we work with countries to establish consensus on proper, basic exceptions within copyright law, we will ask countries to work with us to improve the enforcement of copyright. This is part and parcel of a balanced international system of intellectual property.

Go read it. It is worth it.