[A2k] WIPO SCCR20 Intervention by IFLA on Agenda item 7: Limitations and exceptions

Judit Rius Sanjuan judit.rius at keionline.org
Thu Jun 24 06:58:42 PDT 2010

20th Session: Geneva, 21-24 June 2010

Intervention by IFLA: International Federation of Library Associations

Agenda item 7: Limitations and exceptions

Thank you, Mr Chairman, for inviting the International Federation of Library
Associations to speak. Our statement is made with the support of Electronic
Information for Libraries.  Our organisations very much welcome this
Committee’s focus on exceptions and limitations, particularly those
including libraries and archives - institutions that support the needs of
visually-impaired persons and education as well as many other users.   We
were pleased to see the proposal put forward by the African Group
(SCCR/20/11), and look forward to working with the African Group to develop
these proposals further.

Regarding the proposed treaty for visually impaired and other print disabled
people, IFLA appreciates the proposals of the United States and the European
Union and believes they will aid this Committee’s discussion of the core
issues. However, we think the proposals, as presently formulated
particularly by the EU, present issues that need further development to
adequately meet the needs of print disabled people – and the many libraries
that serve them. 

The most salient concern directly affecting libraries is the definition in
both proposals of ‘trusted intermediaries,’ which appears to limit them to
agencies or not-for-profit bodies that exist primarily to assist print
disabled people or which provide them with specialised services.  The
definitions are focussed on cross-border imports and exports and do not seem
adequately to address onward distribution or the conversion of works for end
users, as set out in Article 4 of the  proposed treaty for print disabled
people. The most convenient places for this activity are libraries in the
communities where print-disabled people live, study or work, and which have
a long history of serving print disabled people. For example, Chancellor
College library, University of Malawi has an electronic embosser, scanners,
and seven Perkins Braillers for the use of their students. Such libraries
must be included as ‘trusted intermediaries’.

Print-disabled individuals are entitled to the basic freedom to obtain any
title they want, personally and easily, at the time and place they want it,
on the same basis as other readers, but in an accessible format.  Libraries
are the most trusted and trustworthy of intermediaries, run in accordance
with an exemplary code of professional ethics and a primary mission that
require us to serve all users equally – including the print-disabled.  So we
believe that all libraries are already ‘trusted intermediaries,’ and should,
as such, be allowed not only to supply already converted works, but to make
on-the-spot accessible copies of works for print-disabled individuals in
compliance with agreed standards - and without great fuss, expense and

Additionally, we should mention two important issues of principle arising
from the EU’s joint recommendation:

We recognise that trusted intermediaries should meet certain criteria;
however, we believe that the requirement to obtain the consent of
rightsholders, such as publishers, would enable rightholders to opt in and
out at will. This would likely result in perpetuating the “book famine” for
print- disabled people that we are trying to end!  How would this take us
forward from where we are now?

It is not clear why trusted intermediaries must specially ‘register’ the
individual print-disabled persons they serve. Statistical information can be
gathered without personal registration, so we ask why this special
registration is necessary?  Not all countries have strong data protection
measures, so a registration requirement also gives rise to significant
privacy concerns regarding access to sensitive personal data revealing who
considers themselves print disabled and what they are reading.

While voluntary stakeholder agreements have their place in increasing
accessibility for visually impaired persons, IFLA supports a binding
international treaty to remove the copyright and related rights barriers to
disabled people’s right to read – the solution represented by the World
Blind Union, who know best what solutions are most appropriate for the
people they represent. We thus applaud the timetable proposal from Brazil,
Ecuador, Mexico and Paraguay to adopt a treaty by 2012

Thank you for your attention.

Winston Tabb, IFLA <wtabb at jhu.edu>

Barbara Stratton, IFLA <barbara.stratton1 at gmail.com>

Victoria Owen, IFLA <owen at utsc.utoronto.ca>

Stuart Hamilton, IFLA <Stuart.Hamilton at ifla.org>

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