Statement of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), Bangalore, on the matter of the Treaty for the Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled, proposed by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay.
16th December, 2009
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates of member states and friends, at the outset I would like to thank the WIPO Secretariat for processing our accreditation to the WIPO as an observer at an early juncture of the SCCR, thereby affording us an opportunity to present brief remarks on the issues being discussed here and which are of great importance to us. My organisation, the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), is a non profit organisation based in Bangalore, India and it looks into, amongst other things, issues of copyrights and related rights and traditional knowledge, in so far as they affect consumer interests, especially in developing countries, in the field of internet and society. We are actively engaged in policy reform at a national level and our interventions include conducting research and advocacy through national campaigns and trainings. We strive to work closely with the Government and other organisations in our goal towards creating an inclusive and barrier free world for persons with disabilities. In fact, we have submitted a detailed paper on the legality and need for exceptions and limitations for the blind and other print impaired persons to the Government of India to aid it in its decision making. We are also engaged in a nationwide right to read campaign and are trying to bring together stakeholders at various levels to try and work out solutions for meeting the needs of persons with print impairments with regard to availability of reading materials.
Mr. Chairman, you may be aware that the Visually Impaired community of India presented a paper to the Director General in November this year setting out its needs and concerns on the issue and stated in no uncertain terms its unequivocal support for the Treaty. The same is available on the vision.ip.org web site. Today I would like to reiterate this support by putting forward a few considerations, which I feel would be applicable to several of the developing countries around the world.
Out of the 80,000-100,000 books which are published each year, barely 600-800 are available in accessible formats.
Mr.Chairman, for us the Treaty will be most beneficial for the following reasons:
Finally Mr.Chairman, I would like to also highlight that this Treaty seeks to preserve a balance between the rights of users and the copyright holders. By opening up the markets for accessible books and facilitating cross border exchange, the Treaty would help reduce the burden on non profit organisations and reduce instance of piracy. Hence Mr.Chairman, CIS would once again strongly urge member states to recognise the merit and need for this Treaty and proceed wit setting in place this international framework as soon as possible.