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A Model Copyright Exemption to Serve the Visually Impaired: An Alternative to the Treaty Proposals Before WIPO

Posted by on Thursday, July 5, 2012 in Notes, Vol. 43 No. 5, Volume 43, Volumes.

Copyright law presents visually impaired persons with serious barriers to access of the written word.  A recent international effort seeks to remove these barriers to access, in limited instances, by allowing the creation of accessible formats of copyrighted works.  While bodies like the World Blind Union—through several South American states—have presented draft treaties to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to date the interested parties have not found a mutually agreeable solution.  This Note surveys international intellectual property law as it relates to the problem, draws a comparison to the humanitarian concerns entangled with international patent law, and tracks the progress of the efforts toward resolution.  The Note then discusses the shortcomings of the currently proposed solutions.  Finally, this Note proposes a market-based solution to providing accessible works, which conforms to the requirements of the Berne Convention and TRIPS Accord’s “three-step test” and avoids the onerous process of finding an acceptable treaty as well as the static resolution such a treaty would provide.

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