I was in Geneva today, and was told by several delegates the US is opposing this language in the negotiating text (from the Annex)
[Proposed Footnote: It is understood that Contracting Parties who are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) acknowledge all the principles and objectives of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and understand that nothing in this Treaty affects the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, including, but not limited to, the provisions relating to anti-competitive practices.]
Why is this important? Because the “principles and objectives” of the TRIPS include references to such things as social and economic welfare, balance of rights and obligations, and the public interest.
The US says it does not want to “change” anything in international law, but asks for references to provisions in the TRIPS that favor right holders. Why would the US object to this, unless they want to favor publishers over blind persons? This is even more baffling when you consider that the USA accepted similar safeguards language in ACTA and the Beijing Treaty.
For example, consider this text from ACTA:
ACTA Article 2. 3. The objectives and principles set forth in Part I of the TRIPS Agreement, in particular in Articles 7 and 8, shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to this Agreement.
Do counterfeiters get more respect from the White House trade office, State and USPTO than do blind people?
Here is the reference in the Beijing treaty to the exact same language the US is seeking to block for blind people:
It is understood that Contracting Parties who are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) acknowledge all the principles and objectives of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and understand that nothing in this Treaty affects the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, including, but not limited to, the provisions relating to anti-competitive practices.
Apparently this was good enough for the performers treaty, but not for a treaty that benefits blind persons.
From the TRIPS Agreement
The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.
1. Members may, in formulating or amending their laws and regulations, adopt measures necessary to protect public health and nutrition, and to promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance to their socio-economic and technological development, provided that such measures are consistent with the provisions of this Agreement.
2. Appropriate measures, provided that they are consistent with the provisions of this Agreement, may be needed to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders or the resort to practices which unreasonably restrain trade or adversely affect the international transfer of technology.