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Showing posts from June, 2010

Authorized Entities <> Trusted Intermediaries

A hot topic at the SCCR20/WIPO discussions in Geneva on global access to materials by the print disabilities is the term "Trusted Intermediaries"("TIs"). This was first introduced (to my knowledge) in the Stakeholder's Platform discussions, which were the quickly ginned-up alternative option created in response to the original introduction at WIPO of the Treaty for the Visually Impaired ("TVI") by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay (and now co-sponsored by Mexico).

The concept of TIs uses U.S. and similar copyright exceptions as a starting point. In the U.S. exception, Section 121, posted at Bookshare as the Chafee Amendment, the term is "authorized entities." In the statute:
"authorized entity" means a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities; In t…

My remarks just made at WIPO today

Statement of Benetech to the
20th Session of the
Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights

at the World Intellectual Property Organization
June 23, 2010, Geneva, Switzerland

• My nonprofit organization, Benetech, operates Bookshare, the largest online library for people with print disabilities, with the mission of bringing accessible books to all people with print disabilities around the world
• We have roughly 100,000 members in the U.S. with print disabilities, with more than 70,000 copyrighted works in our library, the majority of which have been created under the US copyright exception by volunteers, mainly people with disabilities themselves, helping each other.
• At Bookshare, we have been very sensitive to the complaints of blind and print disabled people around the world, feeling that they have been unfairly denied access to our extensive collection
o My explanation that it’s simply copyright law doesn’t make them feel any better
• We would like a binding instrument so that w…

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights at WIPO

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I'm here in Geneva for the 20th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights meeting. This is the international forum for discussing copyright issues, and it is the body considering the Treaty for the Visually Impaired (TVI).

Jamie Love of KEI took the above picture of ACB's Eric Bridges, NFB's Scott LaBarre (and his wife Anahit Galechyan) and me at the meeting: I was busy tweeting what I was hearing at my Twitter handle of @JRandomF.

Hot issue this week are the now four proposals on solving the problem of access to print by people with print disabilities globally:
The TVI: the treaty sponsored originally by the World Blind Union and supported at WIPO by Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Mexico. [I was one of the co-drafters of the treaty language]The U.S. draft Joint Recommendation
The EU draft Joint Recommendation The African broader Treaty draftLook forward to updating on Twitter what's happening.

Supporting Vulnerable Human Rights Defenders in the Congo

Dr. Patrick Ball, Benetech's Chief Scientist and Vice President of our Human Rights Program, is spending much of this year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Patrick is working with a UN human rights project.

The importance of supporting human rights in the DRC was underscored this month when it was reported that Floribert Chebeya, executive director of one of the DRC’s largest human rights organizations, Voice of the Voiceless (VSV), was found dead on the outskirts of Kinshasa. Chebeya, who also directed a national network of DRC human rights groups, died of unknown causes after being summoned on June 1st to meet General John Numbi, the head of the national police force. According to news reports Chebeya was found dead in his car early the next morning.

Amnesty International notes that there has been increased oppression of human rights defenders in the DRC this past year including illegal arrest, prosecution, phone threats and repeated summoning to the offices of the …

Heading out on the road

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I'm now on the road for more than 5 weeks on combo business trips and family vacation. DC this week and Geneva next week (international copyright).
As I headed out the door, I ran into Scott Rains and we had a picture taken of Scott in his Brazil jersey (after the U.S., I'm a big Brazil fan too). Scott is helping with the Bookshare volunteer community as a Benetech Fellow.

I can tell World Cup fever is really hitting!

Towards Global Access for the Print Disabled

A Policy Update from an engineer, Jim Fruchterman of BenetechJune 8, 2010

The international copyright negotiations in Geneva around a proposed Treaty for the Visually Impaired (“TVI”) have been steadily heating up. Counterproposals have been made, governments have been engaging with rights holders, consumers and NGOs (or not!) and there’s a general feeling something is going to happen. I’m heading to Geneva later this month for the next major meeting at the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), to hear the latest and make my three-minute oration as an accredited NGO representative (first time for me!).

My recommendation to the advocacy community is to continue to pursue a “yes-and” approach, as we have so far with the TVI and the Stakeholders’ Platform. However, my suggestion is to pursue the U.S. Joint Recommendation and the TVI, but drop the Stakeholders’ Platform.

This update explains my reasoning. Remember, IANAL (I am not a lawyer). So, your lawyer’s opinion may vary, a…

The FCC and Accessibility

Overview

One of the great things about the Obama Administration is that they've generally lowered the bar for citizen participation in federal policy. I'm much rather post something in a blog than go through a formal sending of a snail mail letter!

The FCC just did a series of four blog posts asking for feedback on their new accessibility plans. Here are my comments on the big picture and a couple of their proposals. I'm also going to copy portions into the comments section of their specific posts.

Comments on the FCC's Accessibility Plans (June 2010)

My main recommendation to the FCC is to be more ambitious about accessibility. Although the Clearinghouse and Awards programs could be helpful to the cause of greater access for people with disabilities, I don’t think they truly take on the biggest opportunity for change.

We have a model for this kind of change: TTYs (text telephones) and relay services though the telephone. When the technology in question was the telephon…

Visit to Qatar

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I’m on the plane heading back to the U.S. after my first visit to the country of Qatar. It was a lightning visit of only two days (Sunday and Monday), with a focus on attending the World Economic Forum's Global Redesign Summit 2010 (the GRI). The government of Qatar hosted the conference, and underwrote travel and accommodation. This meeting was a follow-up for me from my attendance earlier this year at the main WEF meeting in Davos, where I presented my proposal as part of the GRI.
My proposal was on ensuring that all of humanity benefits from the incredible knowledge and technology. We need to encourage limitations and exceptions (like the one in the U.S. that makes Bookshare possible) and open licensing terms, so that people who the market will fail to address get the benefits of our incredibly rich and expanding knowledge base. One famous example of this approach is the affordable licensing and thus wider availability of drugs to combat HIV/AIDS in the developing world, w…