Germany tries to cripple “right to read” EU Marrakesh Treaty legislation for visually-impaired persons with a “publishers compensation right”
The German Permanent Representation to the EU has proposed to MEPs and to the Council to include in the draft Directive for implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty an article that would grant economic compensation to secondary rightsholders such as publishers. This would greatly weaken the “right to read” objectives of Marrakesh Treaty as an exception to copyright for print-disabled persons. Germany proposes to integrate “article 12” of the European Commission´s new general copyright proposal draft that has not yet been considered by the European Parliament which says: “Member States may provide that where an author has transferred or licensed a right to a publisher, such a transfer or a licence constitutes a sufficient legal basis for the publisher to claim a share of the compensation for the uses of the work made under an exception or limitation to the transferred or licensed right.”
Germany has asked for a compensation right which does not exist in present EU law and which contradicts both the spirit of the Marrakesh Treaty and the letter of the European Commission proposed Directive and Regulation now being considered by the European Parliament (which harmonizes EU law without compensation nor remuneration clauses) . In most EU member states this compensation right does not apply when implementing an exception to copyright. In Germany article 45a of its copyright law does oblige blind organizations and libraries to pay (11.50 euros) for every printed book available for lending despite the fact that this law was opposed vigorously by German visually-impaired persons and librarians. Now Germany wants to cripple the cross-border lending of books inside and outside the EU with a double financial burden: blind persons organizations would have to pay both the high production costs of producing books in accessible formats and pay compensation to publishers. In most EU countries this would make the Marrakesh Treaty totally unworkable and make the sharing of books with poorer countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia almost impossible due to the added cost.
According to Wolfgang Angermann, President of the European Blind Union, Germany´s proposal violates international law because “no compensation can be justified, unless it is connected to the clearly stated profit of the respective entity because article 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons states that accessible information must be made available without additional cost.”.
We ask Germany and other EU member states, along with MEPs, to respect the spirit of the Marrakesh Treaty and the right to read of millions of visually-impaired persons by not supporting this “compensation right” or other forms of remuneration in the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty into EU law.
World Blind Union