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Commissioner Charlie McCreevy DG Internal Market and Services European Commission DG Internal Market and Services 2, Rue de Spa

, B-1040 Brussels

Cc: Ms Margot Fröhlinger, Director, Directorate Knowledge-based economy Mr Tilman Lüder, Head of Unit, Copyright and Knowledge based Economy, DG Markt Mr David Baervoets, Policy Officer, Unit Copyright and Knowledge based Economy, DG Markt Brussels, 18 May 2009 Dear Commissioner, The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) strongly supports the October 28, 2008 proposal by the World Blind Union (WBU) to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) for a “WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons”. New information technologies promise to vastly expand both the number of works available in accessible formats and the ability of vulnerable consumers, such as people with reading disabilities, to use those works. However, experience shows the extreme complexity and legal uncertainty of navigating different national copyright regimes, in order to publish works and services for the visually impaired from one country to another. National laws on limitations and exceptions for disabled populations lack harmonization and are often out-of-date with respect to modern information technologies. Digital copies of copyrighted works can now be transmitted over the Internet and distributed to disabled populations in formats that support indexed and searchable access to works using audio, refreshable Braille and large type readers. Some national laws do not address the new publishing platforms, which are important to the disability community, and the current legal environment does not allow for the export and import of works across borders. This has the consequence of severely restricting access to copyrighted works for a very large range of persons. Because digital technologies give new opportunities to fill the gap, these opportunities should be fully recognised by the law at the international level.

We believe that voluntary and market-driven solutions do not provide the proper answers to the problem. WIPO is the only forum that could guide practices under a common framework, leading stakeholders towards genuine accessibility of content, and inspiring the building of a positive agenda for meaningful copyright exemptions on the foundation of social justice and human rights. Since 2003, the WBU has petitioned the WIPO SCCR for action to address their need for global harmonization of limitations and exceptions for the blind, and to ensure that accessible formats of copyrighted works that are created under such limitations and exceptions can be exported and imported, in order to facilitate both the global distribution of accessible works over the Internet, and investment in services essential for this distribution. The development of cross-border services increasing the offer of accessible works is consistent with the European Internal Market, along with the European policy agenda on new technologies and ICT standardization. At recent meetings of the SCCR, WIPO facilitated discussions on the topic of copyright limitations and exceptions, including limitations and exceptions for “blind, visually impaired and other reading-disabled persons.” At its next meeting (May 2529, 2009), the SCCR will continue to consider this topic and will exchange information and experiences in order to deepen its collective understanding of the issues. As part of the process, the SCCR is looking to the copyright limitations and exceptions that are currently available for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and other reading-disabled persons around the world, and has invited Member States to provide supplementary information regarding their national laws and experiences. In order to allow interested persons to provide their views, the United States Copyright Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office have published a Notice of Inquiry1 seeking comment on several focused topics related to the provision of access to copyrighted works for blind or other persons with disabilities. We would like to know if the European Commission has replied to the invitation from WIPO to share information on this topic, in view of the preparation of the next SCCR meeting. The publication of the European Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy showed that the Commission intended to launch the debate of access to copyrighted works. However, the issue of copyright limitations and exceptions applied to visually impaired persons, on the very concrete basis of the WBU Treaty proposal, would deserve specific attention. The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) has issued a policy recommendation2 to the European Commission and to the US government, calling for the adoption of

1 http://www.copyright.gov/docs/sccr. 2 TACD Resolution on WIPO Negotiations on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions, with Special Reference to the Needs of Visually Impaired Persons and Access to Orphan works, adopted July 2008 (attached). TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org 2

minimum copyright limitations and exceptions, especially as concerns the needs of the visually impaired. While the SCCR of course is not obligated to embrace the exact proposal that has been presented by the WBU, it does have an obligation to address their core concerns. How can the disabled community realistically achieve “full and equal” access to copyrighted works? The WBU has provided the SCCR with a concrete proposal to address their concerns. It deserves to be considered by the SCCR and discussed. In that respect, the European Commission can play a leading role in the forthcoming WIPO negotiations. We call upon the European Commission to respond to the WBU with the urgency and seriousness that the issue demands. The first step is to agree to discuss the WBU proposal.

Sincerely,

Anne-Catherine Lorrain Intellectual Property Project The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) 80, rue d'Arlon – 1040 Bruxelles aclorrain@consint.org +32 2 740 28 17 Cc: Jill Johnstone, Consumer Focus, EU Co-Chair of TACD Working Group on Intellectual Property James Love, Knowledge Ecology International, US Co-Chair of TACD Working Group on Intellectual Property Julian Knott, TACD Coordinator

Attachments: - TACD letter distributed to WIPO SCCR 17 delegates on November 3, 2008 - List of TACD members

TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org

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TACD support of World Blind Union proposal for a WIPO treaty for blind, visually impaired and other reading disabled persons. November 3rd, 2008 Dear WIPO SCCR Delegates, The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue is a forum of US and EU consumer organisations which develops and agrees joint consumer policy recommendations to the US government and European Union to promote the consumer interest in EU and US policy making. At present, TACD’s membership includes 26 US. and 48 European consumers organizations. TACD strongly supports the October 28, 2008 proposal by the World Blind Union (WBU) to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) for a “WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons.” Since 2003, the WBU has petitioned the WIPO SCCR for action to address their need for global harmonization of limitations and exceptions for the blind, and to ensure that accessible formats of copyrighted works that are created under such limitations and exceptions can be exported and imported, in order to facilitate the global distribution of accessible works over the Internet. In the WIPO SCCR, the delegations from Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Nicaragua have all proposed work on limitations and exceptions, asking that priority be given to vulnerable populations. In February 2007, WIPO published a report by Judith Sullivan, titled, “Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for the Visually Impaired.” This 233 page report provided a strong basis for norm setting at WIPO to address the concerns of visually impaired and other reading disabled populations. In a resolution adopted July 2008, TACD has asked the U.S. and members of the European Union to support work within the SCCR to address the needs of the visually impaired. That resolution read in part: Excerpt from Resolution on WIPO Negotiations on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions, with Special Reference to the Needs of Visually Impaired Persons and Access to Orphan works. TACD DOC No. IP 05-08, JULY 2008: The World Blind Union (WBU) has on several occasions petitioned and provided comments to WIPO asking the SCCR to address the need for norm setting in the area of minimum L&E, in order to improve their access to protected works. As detailed in their several submissions and comments to the SCCR, and discussed at length in WIPO’s February 2007, 227 page “Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for the Visually Impaired” (SCCR/15/17), the products and services that are needed by the visually impaired are most
TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org 4

effectively provided globally, across national borders. As WIPO’s 2007 study noted, “copyright legislation is territorial in nature… Where activity is undertaken across jurisdictions, it is usually, therefore, extremely difficult to determine with certainty what parts of that activity are lawful and what parts are not.” The World Blind Union reports and WIPO confirms the extreme complexity and legal uncertainty of navigating different national copyright regimes, in order to publish works and services for the visually impaired in one country that are used in another country. The WBU has called for global norm setting to create the type of harmonization and legal certainty needed in the area of minimum L&E, in order to facilitate investment in services that are essential for expanded access to protected works for visually impaired persons.. . What is true for the visually impaired is true for others groups and industries – namely that there are areas where cross-border publishing and innovative services cannot fully develop without greater harmonization and legal certainty regarding minimum L&E. However, the case for early action for the visually impaired is particularly clear, given the extensive research already undertaken in this sector, and the fact that it involves a highly vulnerable population. An agreement on minimum L&E for visually impaired persons will present challenges, but with a modicum of good will by the EC and the US, it should be achievable. One benefit of early action to address the concerns of the visually impaired is that it may provide a concrete model for addressing other areas where there are compelling benefits of harmonization of minimum L&E. But in any event, it should move forward now. TACD specifically calls upon the EC and US to meet with representative of TACD and World Blind Union to discuss this issue, and to propose, by the WIPO General Assembly in September 2008, a concrete proposal for addressing norm setting for the minimum L&E needed to expand investments in publishing and services for visually impaired persons. This proposal should anticipate a draft treaty on minimum L&E for the visually impaired be presented in the November 2008 SCCR meeting, and discussed further in the 2009 SCCR meetings, with a goal of scheduling a diplomatic conference in early 2010. The topic of copyright limitations and exceptions is an agenda item for the program of the 17th SCCR meeting on November 3-7, 2008 in Geneva. As noted in the TACD resolution and as explained in several WBU submissions to the WIPO SCCR and in the 2007 WIPO Sullivan report (SCCR/15/7), national laws on limitations and exceptions for disabled populations lack harmonization and are often out-of-date as they related to modern information technologies. Digital copies of copyrighted works can now be transmitted over the Internet and distributed to disabled populations in formats that support indexed and searchable access to works using audio, refreshable Braille and large type readers. Some national laws do not
TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org 5

address the new publishing platforms that are important to the disability community, and the current legal environment does not allow for the export and import of works across borders. This has the consequence of severely restricting access to copyrighted works for 37 million blind persons, 124 million persons of low vision, and millions more with other disabilities. The WHO estimates that 90 percent of visually impaired persons live in developing countries, with almost no access to copyrighted works. The WBU is deeply involved in efforts to obtain voluntary licenses for access to such works, yet the reality is that only a tiny fraction of copyrighted works licensed for use in available accessible formats. Using limitations and exceptions to copyrights, some countries have created some important collections of works in accessible formats, but cannot export those works to countries that lack such collections. The WBU has provided the SCCR with a concrete proposal to address their concerns. It deserves to be considered by the SCCR and discussed. While the SCCR of course is not obligated to embrace the exact proposal that has been presented by the WBU, it does have an obligation to address their core concerns. How can the disabled community realistically achieve “full and equal” access to works? TACD urges the SCCR to respond to the WBU with the urgency and seriousness that the issue demands. The first step is to agree to discuss the WBU proposal, and a priority proposal in the context of a larger work program on copyright limitations and exceptions.

Sincerely, Anne-Catherine Lorrain TACD Intellectual Property Working Group

TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org

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TACD Members
European Union Alliance for Social and Ecological Consumer Organisations (ASECO) Health Action International Europe Osterreichische Kinderfreunde Verein für Konsumenteninformation (VKI) Test-Achats Bulgarian National Consumers Association (BNAP) Consumers Defence Association of the Czech Republic (SOS) Forbrugerraadet (FBR) European Public Health Alliance European Community of Consumer Co-operatives (EUROCOOP) European Association for the Coordination of Consumer Representation (ANEC) The European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) Suomen Kuluttajaliitto/Finnish Consumers' Association Consommation, Logement et Cadre de Vie (CLCV) Organisation Generale des Consommateurs Union Fédérale des Consommateurs-Que Choisir Verbraucher-Zentrale Bundesverband Consumers' Association (EKPIZO) Consumers' Federation of Greece (INKA) Consumers' Protection Centre (KEPKA) Ekato Országos Fogyasztóvédelmi Egyesület (OFE) Tudatos Vásárlók Egyesülete (TVE) Consumers' Association of Ireland Associazione per la Difesa e l'Orientamento dei Consumatori (ADOC) ADUSBEF Associazione Consumatori Utenti (ACU) Comitato CODACONS Comitato Consumatori Altroconsumo (CCA) Federconsumatori Movimento Consumatori Consumentenbond Forbrukerradet (Consumer Council of Norway) Centro de Arbitragem de Conflictos de Consumo Associacao Portuguesa de Direito do Consumo (APDC) Romanian Association for Consumers Protection Slovene Consumers Association (ZPS) Asociacion Valenciana de Consumidores y Usuarios Confederacion Estatal de Consumidores y Usuarios (CECU) Organizacion de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) Union Nacional de Asociaciones Espanolas (UNAE) Union de Consumidores de Espana (UCE) Sweriges Konsumenter

Austria Austria Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark European Union European Union European Union European Union Finland France France France Germany Greece Greece Greece Greece Hungary Hungary Ireland Italy Italy Italy Italy Italy Italy Italy Italy Italy Italy The Netherlands Norway Portugal Portugal Romania Slovenia Spain Spain Spain Spain Spain Sweden
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TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org

Swedish Consumer Co-operatives (KF) Sveriges Konsumenter i Samverkan European Research into Consumer Affairs (ERICA) National Consumer Council Sustain Which?
United States

Sweden Sweden UK UK UK UK

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI) Center for Auto Safety (CAS) Center for Digital Democracy(CDD) Center for Food Safety (CFS) Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Community Nutrition Institute Consumer Action Consumer's Choice Council (CCC) Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Consumers Union (CU) Economic Justice Institute Electronic Frontier Founddation (EFF) Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators (NACAA) National Consumers League Prevention Insitute Privacy International Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Public Citizen Public Interest Advocacy Centre Public Knowledge US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) World Privacy Forum

TACD Secretariat, 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX, UK Tel : (+44) 207 226 6663 - Fax : (+44) 207 354 0607 - http://www.tacd.org

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