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Statements 21 November 2012

Statement for the WIPO Inter-sessional meeting on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.

Dear Madam Chair

On behalf of the Internet Society I would like to congratulate you for your ongoing leadership and to thank the WIPO secretariat for their ongoing work and for this opportunity to deliver a statement on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.

The Internet Society believes that all people should be in the position to have full and easy access to information, knowledge and other creative content within and outside the Internet. We have undertaken work on the issue of accessibility and we are committed in continuing to work towards this goal, given the Internet's ability to act as a non-discriminatory medium . We are of the opinion that governments and policy makers have an important obligation to use the political, legislative and regulatory tools at their disposal to address accessibility for persons with disabilities. We believe that governments, industry and other key stakeholders need to make accessibility a priority in their ongoing work, individually and collaboratively. To this end, we join the voices of those who are of the opinion that WIPO should urgently call for a Diplomatic Conference for the persons with print disabilities, leading to a much-needed Treaty.

We understand that the issues Member States are facing are both complex and sensitive and that substantial progress has been made towards finding mutually agreeable solutions. In this regard, we would encourage Member States to also have regard to case law, which has established and continues to affirm the position that limitations and exceptions for people with disabilities constitute part of copyright law and a necessity, additionally justifying copyright's original purpose. In this regard, the US Congress for instance has recognized that ”technological advances […] may require public accommodations to provide auxiliary aids and services in the future which today they would not be required because they would be held to impose undue burdens on such entities”.

The Internet Society believes that addressing these issues in a way that seeks to protect vulnerable communities such as the Visually Impaired persons by allowing them easy and inexpensive access to copyrighted material does not go against the essence of copyright. We would, therefore, hope that the Member States agree on a text for a Treaty that is workable and will be able to be used by national jurisdictions to encourage and allow easy access to copyrighted material by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.

We thank you Madam Chair

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