[A2k] LIASA statement on the WIPO Treaty for the Blind, visually impaired and other reading disabled persons

Asma Rehan asmarhn at googlemail.com
Tue Jun 4 08:34:02 PDT 2013


The Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) strongly
supports a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) International
Treaty for the Visually Impaired. This Treaty will enable Member States to
establish an exception in their national copyright laws that will authorise
the making of accessible copies for people with print disabilities (blind,
visually impaired and other reading disabilities). It will also enable
cross-border exchange of accessible copies (e.g. in Braille, large print,
accessible digital formats, e.g. e-books) between Member countries.   This
will increase the number of accessible works for persons with visual
disabilities around the globe. Currently, due to territorial restrictions
of copyright law, individual countries have to make their own accessible
formats (if they have exceptions for this in their national law) or they
have to get copyright clearance first before being able to make accessible
formats.  This process is expensive, time-consuming and a duplication of
effort.  Many developed countries already have large collections of
accessible formats, but the current copyright system stops them from
sharing them with developing countries.

LIASA calls on the South African Government to strongly support this Treaty
at the WIPO Diplomatic Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco (17-28 June 2013).
South Africa’s copyright law does not have any limitations or exceptions
for persons with visual disabilities. Accessible formats are not available
in bookstores or other outlets, so persons with visual disabilities cannot
even purchase these items if they wanted to. They have to depend on
charities, libraries or non-governmental organisations to make accessible
formats for them.  This means that not only are their ‘fair dealing’ rights
in the copyright law being infringed, but their human rights are being
violated in terms of our Constitution, anti-Discrimination laws and
international Conventions.

LIASA also calls on countries, rights-owners and powerful corporations that
are opposing the Treaty to rethink their strategy on this important human
rights issue.  Instead of restricting access to thousands of blind and
visually impaired persons, they should support this Treaty and ensure
equality of access to all.  Allow blind and visually impaired persons to
become readers and in the process, future markets will be opened up for you

Ujala Satgoor

LIASA President 2012 - 2014

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