However, the key moment has already arrived. Yesterday and today, negotiators are to meet in Geneva to decide whether this agreement will take the form of a simple, workable treaty or some kind of non-binding “soft law.”
Sight-impaired people around the world desperately need a lucid, workable treaty and not a “soft law” encumbered by caveats and riddled with loopholes that favor copyright holders rather than balancing publishers’ rights with the needs and rights of the visually impaired. The EU, after years of refusal, finally agreed last month to support a treaty; it should now press for clear, implementable language that will allow organizations to share braille, large-print and audio books with each other and with people whose disabilities make them unable to read.
The negotiators from the US, whose backing is crucial, have yet even to pronounce the word “treaty” during the drafting process. It is time for US President Barack Obama’s administration to see what we see and allow its negotiators to press for adoption of a legally binding treaty.
Chris Friend is head of the Right to Read Campaign of the World Blind Union.
Copyright: Project Syndicate