Thursday, November 13, 2008

Positive moves on limitations and exceptions at WIPO

Unusually for a set of WIPO SCCR discussions, the developing nations and NGOs such as KEI and EFF have come away from the discussions with quite positive impressions (EFF's concerns about the broadcasting treay aside). The ICTSD has a succinct report on the discussions.

"Exceptions and limitations to copyright protection took a central place in the deliberations of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), which met last week.

Under the chairmanship of Jukka Liedes of Finland, the committee spent a substantial part of its meeting examining exceptions and limitations for educational activities, libraries and the visually impaired. A proposal by the World Blind Union (WBU) for a treaty on exceptions and limitations to copyright law for the visually impaired received much attention.

Discussions on Exceptions and Limitations Continue

Exceptions and limitations to copyright allow individuals, under certain conditions, to use a work without requiring authorization from the copyright holder.

In 2003, Chile suggested discussing this issue at the SCCR and last March Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua and Uruguay put forward a proposal for a programme of work in this area including ultimately the possibility of elaborating an international instrument on exceptions and limitations which would include a mandatory set of exceptions and limitations common to all WIPO member states,

In this context, four WIPO-commissioned studies on‘exceptions and limitations’ were presented during “informative sessions” held before the formal start of the Committee’s session last Wednesday.

When the committee formally examined the issue, Chile suggested that a questionnaire regarding the national laws of member states be drafted and circulated to members so that they could compare national experiences and use the document as a guideline for elaborating best practices. The questionnaire would complement existing work and information on limitations and exceptions in national systems, the delegate said...

The proposal by the WBU for a WIPO treaty on Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons was the centre of much discussion at the meeting. The WBU argued that visually impaired persons in developed countries have very minimal access to copyrighted material and that the availability of such products is even more limited in developing countries. The proposed treaty sought to provide a minimum standard for limitations and exceptions for the visually impaired and to facilitate the import and export of works in accessible formats.

The WBU proposal garnered much support from member states from Latin American, African and Asian countries, as well as from all public interest non-governmental organisations present. "

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