Tomorrow 15-2 debate on Treaty Visually Impaired in EP

Press Release:

Oral Question, Debate and Resolution in European Parliament

Wednesay the 15th and Thursday the 16th of February, 2012

Should there be an international exception to copyright to help end the “book famine” for tens of millions of blind persons?

The European Parliament debates the EU´s support for a Global Treaty for the Visually Impaired and other print-disabled persons

At present over 95% of published books are not available in accessible formats for visually impaired and print-disabled persons in Europe and in the rest of the the world over 99% of reading material is unavailable for tens of millions visually disabled persons. This “book famine” occurs  despite the fact that state-of-the-art technology could provide much greater cross border access to millions of blind and print disabled persons inside and outside the EU. To confront this problem of “book famine” the World Blind Union and the European Blind Union have proposed an international Treaty at the World Intellectual Property Organization to establish an International exception and limitation to copyright to facilitate the cross-border movement of reading material formatted for the blind and visually impaired.

Despite enjoying the support of most countries of the world this initiative at World Intellectual Property Organization for an internationally binding treaty has not been supported by the European Commission and Council in contradiction with its legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

On Wednesday, February 15th the European Parliament Plenary will debate an oral question presented by the Petitions Committee on this question. Commissioner Barnier will respond. 

On Thursday, February 20th a resolution will be voted on this issue in the plenary. 

For more information in Strasbourg please contact David Hammerstein, TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue at 0032 474472763 or 0034 600266743

     Dan Pescod, European Blind Union, 




The debate can be watched on webstream at

Some of the MEPs who have confirmed to speak in the plenary on the issue are Michael Cashman, a British Labour MEP,  Erminia Mazzoni, an Italian Conservative (chair of Petitions Committee), Magrete Auken, a Danish Green and Luigi Berlinguer,  an Italian Socialist. Commissioner Michel Barnier is expected to respond.

The European Library service has published a short background paper for the information of MEPs which I attach below.

You can find TVI on the Agenda:

The debate can be watched on webstream at

Here is a briefing by the European Parliament Library: