5 février 2010 5 05 /02 /février /2010 15:28
NGOs urge EU to support access to reading to world´s blind
Millions of visually impaired people suffer a chronic shortage of accessible reading material. Their right to read is far from guaranteed. In Latin America, Asia and Africa, where the vast majority of visually impaired people live, less than 0.5% of published works are available in formats that they can read. Between 3% and 5% of published works are available in developed countries in principal languages (English, Spanish, German, French). Nevertheless, at present the legal uncertainty of intellectual property laws severely restricts the import and export of these works across borders in benefit of the poor. As expert studies have shown the legal context limits the access to knowledge and forces very costly, unnecessary duplication of accessible formats. This means the right to read is severly weakened by a fundamentalist interpretation of copyright.
The proposed Treaty for Exceptions and Limitations for the Visually Impaired is being discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
This treaty has been proposed by the World Blind Union and has been sponsored by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. Despite widespread support from many countries, including the United States, the European Union is not in favour of the treaty or the global objectives of the treaty in applying limitations and exceptions on copyright for the visually impaired. In contrast this has been supported by the USA. Surprisingly, the EU position represented by the European Commission, Sweden and Germany before WIPO, was even against the creation of a working group within WIPO on the matter. Despite the fact that it is clear that national or EU policies alone cannot solve this problem of global access to information and culture for the print disabled, the European Commission only defends national solutions and simply promises to consider solutions to the access problem within the EU but ignores the greater question of social justice and human rights.