Special Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
Update: Negotiators advance towards an international treaty for the visually impaired
February 25, 2013
Delegates at a Special Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) concluded an intense week-long negotiation session on February 22, 2013, with progress on outstanding issues in a draft treaty on appropriate exceptions and limitations for persons with visual impairment and/or print disabilities.
An extraordinary session of the WIPO General Assembly on December 17 and 18, 2012 decided that negotiations were sufficiently advanced to convene a diplomatic conference in June 2013 to adopt a treaty. As work was needed to further streamline the draft text, the General Assembly decided on a Special Session of the SCCR.
During the five-day meeting, delegations made significant progress and concluded work on a cluster of complex themes, including the treatment of the three-step test as a general rule for the implementation of limitations and exceptions. Negotiators agreed to reference the 3-step principle as it appears in the following international treaties: the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the WIPO Copyright Treaty. The draft treaty reiterates the principle by mentioning the relevant articles in those conventions, implying that member states would still need to comply with it when adopting measures necessary to apply the new treaty.
While significant progress was made in the week-long negotiation, important questions remain unresolved in the text, including the issue of commercial availability. Member states are committed to finding solutions that address the concerns of a range of stakeholders prior to the convening of the diplomatic conference in Marrakesh from June 17 to 28, 2013.
To allow more time for negotiations, the special session of the SCCR agreed to hold an additional three-day meeting from April 18-20. This meeting is expected to agree on a final basic proposal on substantive provisions for the Marrakesh diplomatic conference.
The Committee was attended by participants from 93 countries, as well as 39 observers. It was chaired by Ambassador Darlington Mwape (Zambia). Ms. Alexandra Grazioli of Switzerland and Ms. Graciela Peiretti (Argentina) were the Committee’s Vice-Chairs. The Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Serbia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Uglješa Zvekić, served as ad-hoc Chair.