As negotiators at WIPO prepare for a June 17-22 diplomatic conference in Marrakesh to create a new international instrument/treaty for the benefit of the visually impaired. The treaty is intended, by its proponents, to make copyright works more accessible to the visually impaired. It is currently estimated that only 5% of works are available in a accessible format. Stevie Wonder and other key activists have been proponents of the treaty.
The Intergovernmental Committee on Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, and Genetic Resources (IGC) meets this week at WIPO. The Committee is working on negotiating a new treaty or soft law instrument on Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, and Genetic Resources. This week’s work will focus on genetic resources, with future meetings this year on traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions. The meeting begins today with a half day panel of indigenous and local communities – the IGC’s traditional way of beginning each meeting – in an effort to include indigenous and local communities in their work.
There is a danger that, in Canada’s quest to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), Canada may cede whatever leadership it has gained in the field of progressive copyright provisions. Canada’s Bill C-11, the proposed “Copyright Modernization Act”, includes provisions that would allow people who are blind and print disabled to circumvent Technological Protection Measures(TPMs) to access works (s. 41.16). These provisions, while they have been criticized as not going far enough, at the same time could put Canada on the map as being among the first to enact such provisions for the benefit of the blind and print disabled. Under the last leaked text of the American proposal for the TPP, these types of provisions would not be allowed as a permanent exception.