KEI statement on the Marrakesh agreement on copyright exceptions for blind persons

We are very happy with the agreement. There were a few areas where the treaty could have been better, but these are areas of minor quibbles. The first order issues all went in favor of blind persons. The treaty will provide a dramatic and massive improvement in access to reading materials for persons in common languages, such as English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic, and it will provide the building blocks for global libraries to service blind persons. On the issues that mattered the most for blind persons, such as the ability to deliver documents across borders to individuals, and to break technical measures, the treaty was a resounding success. There are some areas where the treaty could have been improved, and it would have been improved, but the US and EU negotiators were remarkably responsive to publisher lobbies. But, the result shows a shift in power in global negotiations on intellectual property rights. The United States and the European Union failed to block or render ineffective the treaty. Developing countries formed strong links with several independent countries like Australia, Canada, Switzerland and even Japan to move the treaty in a positive direction.

The text is complex, and we are working on a detailed analysis of the final provisions, which we will not even see in final form until Thursday.

The World Blind Union and other blind organizations did a fabulous job, as did developing country negotiators from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The support for the blind groups from libraries and civil society groups was strong, and the combined effort of the blind and non-blind civil society NGOs was more powerful than the lobbying by Exxon, General Electric, Monsanto, GSK, Random House, Pearson Publishing, the MPAA and its member groups and others who opposed this treaty.