ENDitorial: WIPO SCCR 21 session

By EDRi · December 15, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [ENDitorial: WIPO SCCR 21 Meeting | http://www.unwatched.org/node/2445]

The present text is a report from the Standing Committee on Copyright and
Related Rights 21st meeting in Geneva, Switzerland (SCCR 21).
In this report, the debate on the Broadcasting Organizations’ protection
(except for the NGO statements) is not included due to the fact that the
author was not present during these negotiations.

The discussions on the matter started during the afternoon of the second day
of the meeting. A handy comparison chart of the four previously introduced
proposals from 2009 and 2010 was available, from which it was fairly easy to
catch up with the current discussion. Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay (later
joined by Mexico – thus the BEMP Treaty proposal) and the African Group made
fairly similar proposals, based on a World Blind Union recommendation
for the visually impaired (various terminologies were used in various
documents, e.g. blind and other reading disabilities or persons with print
and other reading disabilities – for the purpose of this document, they mean
the same). In their proposals, other disabled people were also mentioned,
unlike the US or EU proposals, which were in this and other respects much
more restrictive in the exceptions proposed. The exceptions for other
disabled were, in the final document, moved to a different meeting, together
with the limitations and exceptions for educational and research
institutions, libraries and archives.

During the meeting, KEI made a statement supporting the BEMP Treaty
proposal for extending the exceptions to include other disabled in need than
only visually impaired, which I signed on EDRi’s behalf.

Most of the discussion in the meeting, from Wednesday on, revolved around
the issue of limitations and exceptions for the visually impaired.
Unfortunately, that left little time for the multitude of other topics that
should have been handled. This was recognized, and thus, what the meeting
actually ended up in doing on the topics left unhandled was to divide them
up between additional working days and the coming SCCR meetings in the
following manner:

May/June 2011, SCCR 22: three additional working days for limitations and
exceptions for persons with print and other reading disabilities, to be
presented to the WIPO General Assembly (GA) during September 2011, where a
decision is to be taken on the topic.

November 2011, SCCR 23: three additional working days for limitations and
exceptions for libraries and archives. This was an especially hot topic
amongst the NGOs, as it originally seemed that educational and research
institutions would have been handled before libraries and archives and all
were predicting that to be a much tougher negotiation, possibly having
repercussions on the negotiations for libraries and archives.

It seems that the limitations and exceptions for archives is going to be a
lot easier topic to handle than for libraries. There is little point in
limiting the usage of archive material, especially (but not only)
in the case of orphan works, by the archives. It is, after all, fairly
unlikely that these would be profitable usages nor that they would be
“misused”, in the sense of the current copyright law or its related rights.
The question for libraries is arguably tougher, although, access to
information through libraries should be a clear goal to educate the people.

May/June 2012, SCCR 24: again, three additional working days to the regular
session, now for the limitations and exceptions for education, teaching and
research institutions, and, rather surprisingly, persons with other
disabilities (than print or reading impaired).

There seemed to be no representatives for education, teaching and research
NGOs and institutions at the meeting. Maybe they were there, but the NGOs
representing visually impaired, libraries, archives and general purpose NGOs
such as EDRi, EFF and KEI (although, no FSF, even though they had a seat –
unfortunate), and of course the associations representing copyright holders
and ‘casters were at least much more visible.

Both SCCR 23 and SCCR 24 results are to be presented in the following WIPO
GA meeting in September 2012.

Basically, the exceptions for various disabled are not going to switch the
field of copyright much to any direction – nor will the exceptions to
archives. And these exceptions are easily justifiable by the mere access to
information argument – access to extremely limited amount of information
compared to non-disabled, in any case.

The exceptions for libraries, schools, higher education and research, on the
other hand, might be more meaningful from a copyright perspective. But in a
good sense, as in getting access to information for those who, at
the moment, are lacking it, especially for education but also for cultural
purposes (as is of course true for disabled as well!).

As it seems to be becoming more and more common, the meeting stretched until
(and past) midnight on the last evening. The final version of the timetable
for further negotiations was accepted 7 minutes to midnight – after midnight
it would have been too late, and it would have gone to SCCR 22. After that,
the paper was still discussed, thanks were given etc., but basically, the
result of SCCR 21 was achieved at that point.

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights : Twenty-First Session

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights : Twentieth Session

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights : Eighteenth Session

Communication to SCCR delegates regarding the beneficiaries of a new WIPO
treaty for copyright exceptions for disabilities (12.11.2010)

(Contribution by Kai K. Kimppa – EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Foundation