World Blind Union suspends participation in Stakeholders Platform, demands Treaty

WBU suspends participation in the WIPO Stakeholder Platform and EU Stakeholder Dialogue projects, pending agreement at WIPO on a proper binding legal framework.

“Unfortunately, the WIPO TIGAR project is being erroneously portrayed by some organisations as an alternative to the underpinning legal framework needed to guarantee equal access to information promised under the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities” says Maryanne Diamond, President of World Blind Union. “In fact it demonstrates quite the opposite, and it is now even clearer that a licensing arrangement without underpinning legal rights gets us nowhere.”

“We have engaged in more than two years of patient, resource intensive dialogue with rights holders, and the result has been proposals for organisations that serve disabled people to sign legal frameworks that undermine existing rights and incur costs and liabilities that are completely unreasonable. This demonstrates that governments of the world must now stand up and create the clear legal framework needed to deliver the right of equality of access to published works set out in the convention. WBU and its member organisations value our dialogue with the publishing industry which is aimed at helping them develop more inclusive ways of publishing” says Diamond. “However, at this stage we need to prioritize their scarce resources on assisting governments to create the legal framework. Once this is in place we can then re-start the dialogue with rights holders to make this cost effective for all parties”.

“Having considered the proposals, RNIB in the UK, Vision Australia, ONCE in Spain, CNIB in Canada, the European Blind Union and many other leading organisations envisaged as supporting the network to share these costly and specialised publications between countries advise me that they cannot participate in the network on the proposed basis, and need to concentrate their limited resources on getting a clear legal framework for international exchange”.


For two years now WBU and other organisations  including RNIB, Vision Australia, ONCE, CNIB and EBU  have participated fully in negotiations with rights holder organisations in the WIPO Stakeholder Platform and EU Stakeholder Dialogues. The World Blind Union aimed to try to agree worldwide and European licensing régimes to complement a new, binding international copyright treaty along the lines of the proposal tabled by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay at WIPO in 2009. The proposed treaty would provide a minimum level of legal certainty- whilst respecting copyright- to ensure we can share accessible format books worldwide where license agreements do not exist.

After analysis of the proposed terms for the “TIGAR” pilot scheme and these stakeholder agreements more broadly, we have concluded that the terms would be too onerous and the cost benefits too unclear. This is so for the larger organisations in developed countries, and the difficulties in participating in the complex agreements envisaged under TIGAR would be far greater for organisations in developing countries. WBU has decided therefore to suspend its participation in both the WIPO Stakeholder Platform and EU Stakeholder Dialogue, pending the agreement of an appropriate and binding legal instrument at WIPO.