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WIPO General Assemblies Approve Road Map on Treaty for the Visually Impaired

Posted by Rahul Cherian at Oct 11, 2012 10:34 AM |
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In a significant development the 50th session of Assemblies of WIPO member states reached a breakthrough decision on how to complete negotiations on a pact to improve access to copyrighted works for the many visually impaired or print disabled people around the world.

The meeting of the General Assembly which concluded on October 9, 2012 approved a road map that could lead in 2013 to a historic diplomatic conference for an international treaty focused on improving access to published works for persons who are visually impaired or print disabled.  The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will hold inter-sessional meetings from October 17-19, 2012 to work on the text of the instrument.   The SCCR will meet from November 19-23, 2012 and will continue discussions on the text with the objective of concluding or substantially advancing the text-based work on this topic.  Member states agreed to convene an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly in December 2012 to assess progress on the text and decide whether to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013.  Some 300 million blind or visually impaired people around the world stand to benefit from a more flexible copyright regime adapted to current technological realities. Individuals with reading impairment often need to convert information into Braille, large print, audio, electronic and other formats using assistive technologies.  Only a very small percentage of published books around the world are available in formats accessible to the visually impaired.

At the closing of the Assemblies, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the "extremely constructive engagement of member states" in the work of the Organization as demonstrated in the decisions taken by the Assemblies. He underlined the progress made by member states in setting timetables for concluding negotiations on international instruments on access to copyrighted work by the visually impaired, design law and intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore. The Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Serbia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Uglješa Zvekić, also welcomed the positive outcome of the Assemblies which took stock of the work of the Organization and set timetables to conclude normative work in several areas. Representatives of regional groups, and individual member states, also welcomed the outcome of the Assemblies and the positive spirit among member states. Regional groups specifically underlined decisions to move forward in discussions on a treaty to facilitate access to copyrighted works by the visually impaired or print disabled.

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