The Education, Youth, Culture and Sports (EYCS) Council of the EU endorsed the decision of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER I) in support of a binding legal instrument to limit the exclusive copyright rights of literary and artistic works concerning texts for the blind and the visually impaired. A future adoption of the instrument is expected to provide the blind and the visually impaired with greater and cheaper access to texts. The agreement taken during the two-day Council meeting of November 26 and 27, which is regarded as a major breakthrough, reflects the Cyprus Presidency’s priority on this issue.
The binding legal instrument would seek to limit the obligations that arise around intellectual property rights when a work has been translated and given in writing systems for the blind and visually impaired.
This is expected to establish almost no copyright obligations, in turn providing those in need with greater access to cheaper works.
During the Coreper I meeting in Brussels on November 7, the Cyprus Presidency succeeded in appeasing reservations by some Member States and secured the backing of all 27 to support the binding nature of the proposed legal instrument, resulting in itsadoption by the EYCS Council.
This is the first time in the history of copyright protection, where Member States support such mandatory exemption from copyright under a binding global instrument.
Promoting a binding treaty on limitations and exceptions for the visually impaired and people with printing disabilities, constitutes a priority of the Cyprus Presidency, which expects that the decision of the Council will facilitate the international negotiations on this issue which take place in the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
The EU is expected to support the future adoption of this binding instrument during the meeting of 42nd Extraordinary Session of the General Assembly of WIPO which will take place in Geneva on December 17 and 18, 2012, to evaluate the text and take a decision on whether to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013.
WIPO is one of the 17 specialised agencies of the United Nations and was created in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." WIPO currently has 185 member states, administers 24 international treaties, and its headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland.
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