Unanimous pressure in EP forces Commission to accept binding Treaty of Blind Persons

Never before have I seen such cross-party unity in bashing a Commissioner as last night when Internal Market head Michel Barnier got a real roasting for the EU not supporting an effective Treaty for the visually impaired and print-disabled at the World Intellectual Property Organization.  Today a resolution in favor of the Treaty was passed almost unanimously by the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.   http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2012-0062&language=EN

Here ares some of the expressions used by the MEPs who took part in the 40 minute debate last night:  “Lack of sensitivity”, “Double standards”, “We are irritated with you”,  “Your position is very disappointing”, “The EU practices obstructionism at WIPO”, “The EU blocks steps forward”, “The Treaty isn´t charity, it is a question of rights”, “ludicrous that digital formats don´t increase access”, “You just speak bla, bla, bla”,  “For public debt binding law, for rights of blind voluntary recommendations”, “Don´t use creators as a barrier”, “I cannot understand the rigidity of the Commission at WIPO” and “Copyright is a glaring barrier to access”.

Here you can listen to the debate: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/speeches.do?sessionDate=20120215

Without any political escape in sight and under great dialectical pressure  Commissioner Barnier lamely tried to get away with a few vague promises of an “open dialogue of stakeholders”, “leave all options open”, and “we want a pragmatic solution.”  In the end Barnier was forced to assume the commitment to seek a mandate from the Council and the Commission to negotiate a binding treaty. He said it would not be easy because there were a number of member states who opposed a treaty. He called on the Parliament to support his task. This is the first time the European Commission has called for support of a binding Treaty for the Visually Impaired and Print Disabled.

David Hammerstein, TACD

4 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by john e miller on 16.02.12 at 11:22 am

    The unspoken 500-pound-gorilla-in-the-room is the SCCR 23/5 broad exceptions for libraries and archives document which would eclipse anything in the current SCCR 23/7 exceptions for the visually impaired.

    Should the SCCR 23/7 document pass in anything resembling its current form, I infer from published remarks that those in the IP rights community believe it would be that much more difficult to oppose the 23/5 library treaty.

  2. Posted by david on 16.02.12 at 11:22 am

    Now we are only considering the needs of the visually impaired. Things are so terribly slow and tortuous at WIPO that I doubt that it is very credible to pose the “slippery slope” argument against TVI.

  3. Posted by john e miller on 16.02.12 at 11:22 am

  4. Posted by john e miller on 16.02.12 at 11:22 am

    ‘Slippery slope’ vs. camel’s-nose — from the above KEI online.org link:

    ‘Justin (Hughes) was effective in drafting text and in the negotiations. He also spent a great deal of time telling the World Blind Union it was a mistake to push for a treaty, and trying to engineer an outcome that would kill the treaty, which Justin told the WBU was “the camel’s nose” in terms of what would come next.’

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