Cablegate: Wipo Conference On the Visually Impaired


DE RUEHGV #0728/01 2461426
R 031426Z SEP 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: WIPO Conference on the Visually Impaired

1. (U) SUMMARY: WIPO held a conference on the morning of July 13
on access to reading material for the visually impaired. END


2. (U) WIPO's July 13 Conference on Improving Access to Copyright
Content for the Visually Impaired examined the needs of visually
impaired persons (VIP) as they relate to intellectual property (IP),
particularly in terms of how to improve timely access to
copyright-protected content. Affiliates of the World Blind Union
(WBU), certain Member State representatives from Chile, Senegal and
Canada, and the WIPO Secretariat participated as panelists. The
issue of improving format accessibility to copyright protected
content by visually impaired persons emerged in recent meetings of
the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights on
behalf of the WBU (an observer to the SCCR) and certain developing
countries. The Conference set the stage for more discussions to
occur at WIPO and at the national level.

3. (SBU) The overall view at the Conference was that the
proliferation of digital technologies has added a new dimension to
the question of how to maintain a balance between the protection
available to right owners, and the needs of reading impaired
persons. While the need for cooperative arrangements with
publishers has been acknowledged by the blind community and was
reiterated at the Conference, the visually impaired seek a binding
international instrument exempting some users from liability is
necessary to facilitate the movement of certain copyrighted works
across borders (NOTE: the U.S. believes that creating such a binding
instrument would be premature). It has been noted by the blind
community that more than 160 million blind or visually impaired
people around the world stand to benefit from a more flexible
copyright regime adapted to the technological realities of the day.

WIPO to launch new VisionIP website
4. (U) WIPO Director General, Mr. Francis Gurry announced that, in
the framework of its visually impaired persons (VIP) initiative (an
informal consultation process among the principal VIP stakeholders,
including blindness groups, publishers and other copyright owners,
and NGOs), WIPO will be launching a website - -
dedicated to attracting support, exchanging views, and disseminating
information to all interested parties. The goal of the website is
to identify and facilitate practical solutions, such as encouraging
the adoption of standardized accessible formats or building "trusted
intermediary" relationships between VIP charities and publishers to
encourage the production and secure distribution of content in
accessible formats.

5. (U) In addition, Ambassador Swashpawan Singh, Advisor to Mr.
Gurry on the VIP initiative, pointed out that continued progress in
this area on special access to copyrighted materials by the blind
depends upon the commitment and support of Member States and their
ability to consider the interests of all stakeholders. He added that
it is clear that without contravening the legitimate interests of
right holders, greater quantities of copyright-protected material -
both analog and digital -- could be made available in accessible
formats and disseminated across multiple jurisdictions in a timely
way, to enhance opportunities for the literacy, independence and
productivity of VIPs. WIPO's task is to facilitate a process that
could lead to the desired outcomes within a reasonable time frame.

Open to differing approaches
6. (U) Speaking on behalf of WIPO member states, the Permanent
Representative of Chile to WTO, Ambassador Mario Matus; the
Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations,
Ambassador Babacar Carlos Mbaye; and Mr. Douglas George from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada;
expressed their openness to continuing discussion of the issue,
particularly regarding the international exchange of adapted
materials across different jurisdictions. Mr. George, in
particular, noted that a new copyright exception is not necessary to
allow the international exchange of adapted materials. Further, he
mentioned that various approaches have been implemented by many
countries to address this issue, and that any norm setting should,
and must, allow for this a range of approaches.

7. (U) Mr. Chris Friend of the World Blind Union (WBU) outlined the
needs and expectations of the visually impaired community. He was
confident that cooperative efforts between the community and the
publishing sector would result in more accessible materials. He
underlined that a binding international instrument on the needs of
the visually impaired would complement those efforts by ensuring,
for instance, the cross-border circulation of books in accessible
formats. For example with a binding international treaty, blind
readers in 19 countries across Latin America would have access to
Braille or audio books produced by the National Organization of the
Spanish Blind (ONCE). The Francophone Africans would do the same
with the French collections from Canada, France, Belgium and
Luxemburg and Switzerland. The Portuguese organizations could share
with Brazil, Angola and Mozambique.

8. (U) Mr. Herman Spruijt, President, International Publishers
Association (IPA) said that the publishing sector was willing to
contribute its fair share in finding solutions to the important
issue of disability access, and highlighted the complexities of
dealing with different needs and interests of multiple stakeholders
in a fast-moving stream of technological development. He urged
parties to be flexible in achieving a common goal rather than
creating an artificial polarization. He commended the consultative
approach adopted by WIPO to move forward with the VIP initiative.

9. (U) Mr. Dipendra Manocha, Director of the New Delhi-based
Regional Resource Centre, Digital Accessible Information System
(DAISY) Consortium, said that standards were key to developing
technology-based solutions to address the problem of disability
access. He outlined the work of the Consortium in expanding access
to works in accessible formats, particularly in the developing
world, where about 90 percent of all VIPs reside. Mr. Manocha said
that while thousands of works existed in accessible formats,
developing countries had to recreate masters at great expense
because libraries in developed countries were unable to share their
content with their counterparts in developing countries. He pointed
out the need to find policy solutions that would enable the
widespread use of the technologies that already exist to facilitate
access to works by VIPs.

10. (U) All PowerPoint Presentations and audio speeches can be
found at:


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Human Rights: China Journalist Jailed For COVID Reporting Seriously Ill, Must Be Released

UN human rights experts* today urged China to immediately release imprisoned citizen journalist and woman human rights defender Zhang Zhan on humanitarian grounds, saying her health is deteriorating rapidly and her life is in danger... More>>

CID: PNG Deadly Covid Crisis Getting Worse
People in Papua New Guinea are not getting enough Covid vaccines due to misinformation. This is causing immense stress and suffering throughout the country, says Quenelda Clegg Chair of CID’s Humanitarian Network...More>>

Sudan: Bachelet Condemns Killings Of Peaceful Protesters

At least 39 people have been killed by security forces in Sudan since the 25 October military coup, 15 of whom were reportedly shot dead on Wednesday, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights...

Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>

Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>