SCCR Commits to Improving Access by Visually Impaired to Copyright-Protected Works

Geneva, December 18, 2009

WIPO’s top copyright negotiating forum has agreed to move forward with discussions that could lead to better access to copyright-protected works by the blind, visually impaired (VIP) and other reading-disabled persons.  The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), meeting from December 14 to 18, 2009, decided to accelerate the work on copyright exceptions and limitations for the benefit of persons with reading disabilities

In concluding remarks, the Chairman of the SCCR, Mr. Jukka Liedes, noted that the Committee accepted the initiation of focused, open-ended consultations in Geneva “aimed at an international consensus regarding exceptions and limitations for print-disabled persons.” 

A proposal for a treaty (based on text prepared by the World Blind Union) was submitted in May 2009 by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. A number of delegations supported working towards an appropriate international instrument and agreed to continue discussions at the next session of the SCCR in 2010. 

Delegates welcomed progress in implementing a series of practical measures to facilitate access to copyright-protected materials by reading impaired persons. These include the continuing work of a stakeholders’ platform which aims to identify and develop solutions that improve the availability of copyright-protected published works in formats accessible to reading‑disabled persons and in a reasonable time frame.   

Progress was also made in talks relating to the protection of performers in their audiovisual performances.   In 2000 a diplomatic conference on the protection of performers in their audiovisual performances made significant progress with provisional agreement on 19 of the 20 articles under negotiation, but did not agree on the questions of whether and how a treaty on performers’ rights should deal with the transfer of rights from the performer to the producer. 

The Committee noted that the 19 articles provisionally adopted in 2000 provide a good basis for treaty negotiations. The SCCR agreed to the organization of open-ended consultations on outstanding issues during the early months of 2010. 

The adoption of a new instrument would strengthen the position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer legal basis for the international use of audiovisual works, both in traditional media and in digital networks.  An international instrument would also contribute to safeguarding the rights of performers against the unauthorized use of their performances in audiovisual media, such as television, film and video.   

The SCCR also continued discussions on the protection of broadcasting organizations and examined the first part of a study on the socio-economic impact of the unauthorized use of signals in the broadcasting sector.  The second part of the study will be presented to the next session of the Committee. The SCCR asked the secretariat to organize regional seminars to ascertain views on the objectives, specific scope and object of protection of a possible draft treaty following a signal‑based approach. 

Discussion on all items will continue at the next session of the SCCR.

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