Canada endorses treaty for copyright exceptions for print disabilities at WIPO SCCR 25

sccr25, canadaSome have written to ask what the Canada position is on the proposed WIPO treaty on copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. For the first 3.5 days of the meeting, Canada did not say anything. But on Thursday afternoon, in a discussion of libraries, archives and education, Canada made a short intervention, and expressed support for a treaty for print disabilities, a topic that had been discussed earlier.

I was not in the room when Canada spoke and missed it, but Paul Whitney, a librarian from Canada was there and brought it to my attention. CIS-India has been collecting the real time transcripts from the SCCR 25 meeting, so I was able to find the Canada intervention.

Thanks CIS-India. Here is the transcript:

Now I’ll pass the floor to the delegation of Canada.

CANADA: Thank you, Madam Chair. The delegation from Canada would like to thank the WIPO Secretariat for the assistance provided to this Committee, notably the development of documents that assist discussions here.

We invite our fellow delegations to consider numerous copyright reforms that just recently came into force under our domestic Copyright Law. The reforms in Canada’s copyright act were developed in order to address the challenges and opportunities of the digital era. A number of these reforms pertain to uses of copyright material by educational institutions, students, researchers, librarians, persons with perceptual disabilities and others.

These reforms include new provisions permitting technology enhanced learning, including distance education through the digital delivery of course materials, the digital delivery of interlibrary loan materials, and the use of publicly available Internet material in the education context.

We would also like to take this opportunity to express our support for the development of a Treaty to facilitate access to material by persons with print disabilities. Thank you

The Canada Law

What Canada did not do in open session was describe the Canada law on exports of accessible works, which is highly restrictive, and which appears as though it could have been written by the publishers as a model for the current WIPO negotiations.

Among the restrictions in the Canada act are the following:

  • The exception is limited to Canadian authors, or authors from the county of export.
  • Large print books are excluded, as are cinematographic works.
  • The export cannot take place if there is a format “specially designed for persons with a print disability . . . available in that country within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price, and may be located in that country with reasonable effort.”
  • Royalties to authors are required, something that does not apply to the domestic exception
  • The entity making the exports has to send reports to “an authority”
  • The entity making the export has to have a contract with the import entity that covers a number of issues specified by the Canada statute.
  • The exception only covers print disabilities, and excludes deaf persons, even though the later are included in the Canada domestic exception.

The publishers are trying to get all but the first restriction into the WIPO treaty.

Sending copies outside Canada

32.01 (1) Subject to this section, it is not an infringement of copyright for a non-profit organization acting for the benefit of persons with a print disability to make a copy, in a format specially designed for persons with a print disability, of a work and to send the copy to a non-profit organization in another country for use by persons with print disabilities in that country, if the author of the work that is reformatted is

  • (a) a Canadian citizen or permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; or
  • (b) a citizen or permanent resident of the country to which the copy is sent.

Marginal note:Limitation

(2) Subsection (1) does not authorize a large print book or a cinematographic work to be sent outside Canada.

Marginal note:Work available in country

(3) Subsection (1) does not authorize a copy to be sent to a country if the organization knows or has reason to believe that the work, in the format specially designed for persons with a print disability, is available in that country within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price, and may be located in that country with reasonable effort.

Marginal note:Good faith mistake as to author’s nationality

(3.1) If a non-profit organization that is relying on the exception set out in subsection (1) infringes copyright by reason only of making a mistake in good faith as to the citizenship or residency of the author of the work, an injunction is the only remedy that the owner of the copyright in the work has against the organization.

Marginal note:Royalty

(4) The organization making and sending the copy shall pay, in accordance with the regulations, any royalty established under the regulations to the copyright owner in the work.

Marginal note:If copyright owner cannot be located

(5) If the organization cannot locate the copyright owner, despite making reasonable efforts to do so, the organization shall pay, in accordance with the regulations, any royalty established under the regulations to a collective society.

Marginal note:Reports

(6) The organization making and sending the copy shall submit reports to an authority in accordance with the regulations on the organization’s activities under this section.

Marginal note:Regulations

(7) The Governor in Council may make regulations

  • (a) requiring a non-profit organization that seeks to send a copy outside Canada to, before doing so, enter into a contract with the recipient non-profit organization with respect to the use of the copy;
  • (b) respecting the form and content of such contracts;
  • (c) respecting any royalties to be paid under subsections (4) and (5);
  • (d) respecting to which collective society a royalty is payable in relation to works or classes of works for the purposes of subsection (5);
  • (e) respecting what constitutes reasonable efforts for the purposes of subsection (5); and
  • (f) respecting the reports to be made, and the authorities to which the reports are to be submitted, under subsection (6).

Meaning of “print disability”

(8) In this section, “print disability” means a disability that prevents or inhibits a person from reading a literary, musical or dramatic work in its original format, and includes such a disability resulting from

  • (a) severe or total impairment of sight or the inability to focus or move one’s eyes;
  • (b) the inability to hold or manipulate a book; or
  • (c) an impairment relating to comprehension.

2012, c. 20, s. 37.