Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Breaking News on the Global Treaty from Kareem Dale

Betsy Beaumon and I had the pleasure to meet today with Kareem Dale, the special assistant to the president for disability policy. We had a wide-ranging conversation about Bookshare and the current hot disability issues. Really exciting.

The one incredibly newsworthy item was Kareem emailed me (during the meeting) a statement he drafted on the topic of the Global Treaty that was discussed in late May at the SCCR event at the World Intellectual Property Organization. I found it very exciting as President Obama's position on this developing issue! The following is the email I received from Kareem Dale in its entirety (and I have his permission to distribute it):

Access to information and ideas is essential for personal and professional growth and full engagement in a democratic society. But engagement can be severely limited when information is not available in accessible formats. We are committed to building a world that no longer puts up unnecessary barriers. We must create and develop policies that ensure everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities.

The United States is currently involved in important discussions at the World Intellectual Property Organization regarding ways in which to improve access to copyrighted materials throughout the World, including, specifically, for persons who are blind and visually impaired. The United States Government has long been a leader in producing and facilitating the dissemination of materials accessible to blind and visually impaired persons.

We are committed to furthering international efforts to enhance the access to copyrighted materials. There are many issues affecting accessibility including available resources, technical considerations, practices and market considerations. We support the opportunity to explore these issues further at the international level and to develop ways in which to improve the availability of accessible materials, both at home and in foreign countries. We look forward to discussing a wide range of solutions and proposals at the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, including the proposal put forward by Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay Relating to Limitations and Exceptions: Treaty Proposed by the World Blind Union.

4 comments:

Darrell said...

I'm glad to see that Kareem Dale is engaged on this treaty issue. His response to you looks suspiciously like a portion of the position paper the United States put in front of the SCCR in May. In it, the discussion of a treaty is deemed "premature." Alas, I'm not finding what Dale said to you all that different. If it is different, please explain it to me if you wish. Perception inside and outside the blind community is that, like the other Group B countries, the U.S. does not support the treaty at this time. I really do hope this is a positive change for the better on the part of the Obama Administration in front of the SCCR, but I guess I am waiting to be convinced.

Jim Fruchterman said...

I think he'll continue to engage in this issue. I thought this represented a movement by the White House towards active discussion on this issue, and a more pro-disability position than was there in Geneva from the U.S. delegation (and represented as such by Kareem Dale). The two biggest ones for me are listed below. The second one doesn't say it's premature to discuss a treaty, which was the big issue. We'll see how far these go in the next SCCR session.

We are committed to furthering international efforts to enhance the access to copyrighted materials.

and


We look forward to discussing a wide range of solutions and proposals at the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, including the proposal put forward by Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay Relating to Limitations and Exceptions: Treaty Proposed by the World Blind Union.

Darrell said...

OK. Yes. I conceed. He did expand a bit and the second excerpt clearly indicated they're considering the treaty. My apologies if I managed to miss something on the first and/or second reading... :-)
My question, which I also tweeted, still stands. What should we do at this point as advocates?

Jim Fruchterman said...

Great question, Darrell. More on that after I meet with more people on this issue tomorrow in DC.