Last week, the World Intellectual Property Organization hosted meetings on the treaty for the visually impaired.  Progress was slow, and observers are asking whether WIPO will be able to conclude the negotiations by December as planned.  WIPO released a new text many issues remain unresolved and new bracketed text has been added.  Much of the meetings were held without NGO observers present.

James Love from Knowledge Ecology International writes that “the slow progress on the text was one of disappointment, but short of total despair. Among the factors contributing to the difficulty of simplifying the text were the expanded number of countries taking a serious interest in the negotiations, and three fundamental differences in negotiating objectives.  The United States, backed by the European Union, seeks to limit the beneficiaries, formats, media and rights in the agreement… The EU is bound and determined to have a big negotiation over 3-step language in this treaty… The European Union primarily, but with some backing from the US government, is holding blind people’s access hostage in an effort to introduce new global enforcement norms for copyright.”

IP Watch reports that many NGOs felt left out of the negotiations.  David Hammerstein from the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue is quoted saying that the EU was unwilling to establish a precedent on limitations and exceptions to copyright: “They want to establish a firewall against copyright flexibilities even if holding millions of blind people hostage…  300 million people have become hostages to the global copyright war between greater flexibility and greater intellectual property rights enforcement.”