European Blind Union urges EU not to make Copyright Treaty into an unworkable, “trophy treaty”

Mr Michel Barnier
European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
European Commission
BERL 10/034
B – 1049 Brussels

Mr. Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council
Rue de la Loi 175
B-1048 Brussels

28th March 2013

Dear Commissioner Barnier, President Van Rompuy,

I am writing to you in my capacity of President of the European Blind Union, (EBU) but also as a blind individual, about negotiations to conclude an international treaty to help blind people get greater access to reading.

I know from personal and professional experience just how devastating it is to be excluded from the world of reading. This is a daily occurrence for blind and partially sighted and other “print disabled” people. We face a “book famine” because in most countries, only some 1% of books are ever made available in formats that blind people can read, such as audio, large print or Braille. (In the richest still only some 5% are available in these formats.)

I am writing to you now because we have reached a vital moment in the campaign for an international treaty at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to remove the copyright barriers that help to create this “book famine”.

WIPO negotiators, including those representing the EU, will meet again on April 18-20, and it is expected that treaty negotiations will be concluded at the end of June this year.

To come straight to the point, I would like to ask for your reassurance on two vital areas of the draft treaty text which will be under negotiation in the next two months. We hear that the EU negotiators are looking:

to require, as a condition of using the treaty, charities to carry out checks to supposedly ensure an accessible book is not already “commercially available” in another country in the right format, price and at the same time as the print version

EBU rejects proposals for treaty Articles D and E of the treaty to contain requirements to check “commercial availability as a prerequisite of using the treaty. They would be burdensome and impossible to implement

to prevent charities from sending accessible format books to blind individuals in other countries

EBU urges you to ensure that treaty Article D clearly allows accessible format books to be sent internationally and directly to blind/ print disabled individuals.

At this crucial juncture, EBU urges you to ensure that the Council and Commission negotiate a treaty that is simple and workable for blind people and their organisations.

A bureaucratically burdensome “trophy treaty” would do nothing to help end our book famine or meet the EU’s commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

A simple, workable treaty would open a new chapter for the inclusion of blind and print disabled people in our society.

Yours sincerely,

Wolfgang Angermann
EBU President
European Blind Union
EBU Central Office
58 avenue Bosquet, 75007 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 47 05 38 20 | Fax: +33 1 47 05 38 21 | E-mail:  HYPERLINK “”
See WIPO draft treaty Doc “SCCR/25/2 REV.” Text in Article D3 and related proposal in the annex to that document D(3) Alternative B. Also first text proposal on Article E in the annex of same document
See annex “Note on Article D(2)(B)” of WIPO draft treaty Doc SCCR/25/2 REV

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