Centre for Internet & Society

The twenty-first session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights was held in Geneva from 8 to 12 November 2010. Nirmita Narasimhan attended the conference and represented the Centre for Internet and Society.

The Centre for Internet and Society is pleased to note the collective intent on the part of member states to find a solution to the lack of accessible reading materials for persons with print disabilities around the world, as evidenced by the number of proposals which have been put forward since the past SCCR. It is clear that member states have been applying their minds to this problem and have presented us with several possible options, which they believe would adequately address this issue. We would however like to take this opportunity to remind them, that disability groups, from both developed and developing countries, who have been grappling with this issue for decades, have been unitedly stressing the urgent need for a legally binding international instrument as the only effective solution to achieve results at a global level.

I would like to very quickly put forward a few thoughts for the consideration of this committee:

  • We believe, that there should be an international treaty harmonising exceptions and limitations for access to reading materials for persons with print disabilities, and that achieving this should be the first priority for work in this committee
  • Limitations and exceptions are important for promoting access to knowledge, encouraging creativity and furthering the overall development of humankind and hence, should be the subject matter of serious discussions at WIPO; WIPO should play an important role in the development of international copyright law to facilitate greater access to knowledge and information, especially in the context of digital technologies
  • Limitations and exceptions on all issues which further the development Agenda of WIPO, including exceptions for the print disabled, education, libraries and other issues, must be discussed amongst member states without delay in the forthcoming meetings of this committee
  • We feel that there may be some merit in reserving separate sessions for discussing each issue, since this would facilitate more focused and comprehensive deliberations in an expeditious manner

Hence, we would like to urge member states to begin work on all these issues, ordering them on the basis of their maturity, with a view to achieving concrete outcomes, which should be informed by the collective wisdom of stakeholders affected by these instruments as to what are the ground realities prevailing in their countries.

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