Tag Archives: EU

European Commission Proposes Ratification of Marrakesh Treaty for the Blind

On October 21, 2014, the European Commission proposed ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The EU signed the treaty in April 2014.

From the press release:

Michel Barnier, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Internal Market and Services, said “The Marrakesh Treaty will simplify the lives of millions of visually impaired people around the world. The EU can help to improve access to books with equal conditions for all and contribute to the fight against the book famine. The Commission’s proposal is a signal that Europe is ready to support the rapid entry into force of this important Treaty. I count on the Council and the European Parliament to authorise the ratification as soon as possible.” (emphasis added)

Two countries — India and El Salvador — have ratified the treaty which sets forth minimum standards for limitations and exceptions designed to facilitate access to accessible format works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. It would also permit cross-border sharing of these accessible format works, allowing countries to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts in the creation of accessible format works and also facilitate the importation of works in other languages.

The treaty needs eighteen more ratifications to enter into force. The United States signed the Marrakesh Treaty in October 2013; when will it ratify the treaty?

Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) Comments on EU Consultation on Copyright Rules

On March 3, 2014, the Library Copyright Alliance submitted a response to the EU consultation on the review of copyright rules. The EU website provided a list of 80 questions for stakeholders to answer; the LCA response focuses on those questions most relevant to the library community. The categories of questions to which LCA responded cover digital transmissions, term of protection, limitations and exceptions, preservation and archiving, e-lending, mass digitization, teaching, research, and access for persons with disabilities. The full LCA response can be accessed here.

LCA responds extensively to questions on limitations and exceptions, in particular advocating for fair use. LCA recommends that the EU adopt a flexible fair use provision in order to address areas where specific limitations and exceptions do not exist and to allow the copyright law to evolve as technologies change. With respect to fair use and limitations and exceptions, LCA cites several documents for the EU to consider, including a 2013 white paper, How Flexibility Supports the Goals of Copyright Law: Fair Use and the U.S. Library Experience, ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi’s The Fair Use/Fair Dealing Handbook, and Jonathan Band and Deborah Goldman’s Global Use and Fair Dealing Decisions Available Online.

In addition to broadly recommending adoption of a fair use provision in response to the EU’s general question regarding limitations and exceptions, the LCA notes in several other areas of the document that fair use can address specific issues concerning the library community. With respect to preservation and archiving, for example, the consultation response notes that while no specific limitation or exception exists in the U.S. to permit web archiving, libraries and archives may rely on fair use to perform such functions. Similarly, the LCA response points out that libraries and archives may pursue mass digitization projects by relying on fair use. With regard to questions on the educational context, LCA notes that fair use can complement specific limitations and exceptions, including where specific limitations, such as those contained in the TEACH Act, are insufficient, too narrow or overly cumbersome.

Responding to other relevant questions, LCA recommends that the EU ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and ensure its implementation in all member states in order to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities. It also notes that current terms of protection for copyright are inappropriate, particularly in the digital age, and can contribute to loss of access to knowledge and an increased number of orphan works. Furthermore, the LCA response opposes any requirements that provision of a hyperlink or viewing of a webpage be subject to the authorization of the rightholder.

For the first time in a judgment on the merits, the European Court of Human Rights has clarified that a conviction based on copyright law for illegally reproducing or publicly communicating copyright protected material can be regarded as an interference with the right of freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention.