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Copyright Industries Oppose Treaty For the Blind 135

Posted by kdawson
from the see-it-my-way dept.
langelgjm sends in a piece from Wired, which details the background of a proposed treaty to allow cross-border sharing of books for the blind — a treaty which is opposed by an almost unified front of business interests in the US, with the exception of Google. "A broad swath of American enterprise ranging from major software makers to motion picture and music companies are joining forces to oppose a new international treaty that would make books more accessible to the blind. With the exception of Google, almost every major industry player has expressed disapproval of the treaty, which would allow cross-border sharing of digitized books accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Google's chief copyright counsel believes the industry-wide opposition is mainly due to 'opposition to a larger agenda of limitations and exceptions... We believe this is an unproductive approach to solving what is a discrete, long-standing problem that affects a group that needs and deserves the protections of the international community.'"
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Copyright Industries Oppose Treaty For the Blind

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  • Rob you blind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:33PM (#30416914) Journal

    Extree! Extree! Read all about it! Copyright holders rob you blind!

    Seriously what the fuck do these jokers hope to gain? How much can you expect to profit in this niche market to begin with?

    I'm surprised the fuckers haven't hired thugs to go around and burn down public libraries.

    • Re:Rob you blind (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Renraku (518261) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @05:10PM (#30417266) Homepage

      Actually, there was an attempt a while back to get libraries to pay 'rent' for books, because OMG they're infringing upon our right to profit!!

    • I'm surprised the fuckers haven't hired thugs to go around and burn down public libraries.

      Who do you think sponsored Hitler's public book burnings?

    • by cheftw (996831)

      Well if you have digital Braille or whatever then surely you can regexp it to a normal digibook.

      I'd say that's what they're worried about.

    • Money is the goal. What else should we expect? Our culture embraces and promotes this kind of behaviour.

      When we someday realize that each other are much more valuable than materials and control, maybe we can expect better things of our society.

    • Seriously, it is time for a new "Statue of Anne".
    • by rdnetto (955205)

      I didn't RTFA, but I'm guessing it's a DRM issue. Any open format can be easily used by accessibility software (e.g. screen readers), but closed formats can't. If the treaty makes open formats available, that would be a massive loophole. Even if it's ineffective, DRM is like a comfort blanket to them.

  • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:34PM (#30416928)
    Always looking for a way to screw America!
  • by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:37PM (#30416954)

    If Motion Picture makers are opposing a treaty that concerns people who a frigging Blind.

    Excuse me Mr MPAA how exactly are Blind people expected to SEE (with working eyes naturally) your esteemed works?

    Why would these business really oppose a treaty that would make life easier for one section of society. Are they afraid we would all rush out, buy some eye patches and learn braille?

    Bah Humbug

    • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:40PM (#30416988) Homepage Journal

      Why would these business really oppose a treaty that would make life easier for one section of society. Are they afraid we would all rush out, buy some eye patches

      Well, a lot of people would rather just not have to do any extra work or shell out any extra money to create products to benefit the disabled. It might be inhuman, but it is easier to just forget about the less fortunate and sorta hope they die off or something rather than cramp your style helping them.

      • by fermion (181285) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @05:28PM (#30417392) Homepage Journal
        Some of this is simply laziness. For example, Building a computer interface that allowing real time scaling of screen blocks so that people with visual impairments can read them is not that hard, yet we did not see that in all major OS until the past five years. Web pages that allow screen reading is not a hugely complex, but many have made no effort to use screen reader.

        But some of this is manufactures trying to keep their inefficient subsided products from being made irrelevant. For instance, who needs a special TTY phone when every cell phone can text? Who needs a special large print books when any e-book can be set to use any size font? Who needs special books on tape when a computer can read a book. None of these may be as good as the specialized product, but the 'good enough' nature certainly appears to make the ingrained interests worried about their future.

        This does not even take account of the fact that technology is allowing some people to work who previously could not, increase the competition in the job market.

        • by tjstork (137384)

          Some of this is simply laziness. For example, Building a computer interface that allowing real time scaling of screen blocks so that people with visual impairments can read them is not that hard, yet we did not see that in all major OS until the past five years. Web pages that allow screen reading is not a hugely complex, but many have made no effort to use screen reader.

          But those things ARE hard. They DO cost money. It's not laziness. I mean, if it were, then you should be able to make the New York Time

      • That's the thing. They shouldn't have to. If they don't want to tap a market, they should sure as hell not be forced to. If the market decides that it doesn't care about the blind, oh well. When someone decides to pander to that specific special interest group they'll have a monopoly on that market and stand to potentially make a lot of money. The companies that don't pander to that group won't be getting any of that market and won't be making a dime off of it.

        There is already a system in place to enable
        • by Bert64 (520050)

          That would work in a free market, tho it would result in unfair treatment for those who are stuck in those niches through no fault of their own. Such people will be forced to pay through the nose for often inferior options, and in many cases the vendors operating in the mass market will be using proprietary lock-in to lock out any other vendors - thus leaving the smaller vendors operating in the niche markets being forced to offer a non interoperable product which is seen as inferior and/or useless...

          • Life isn't fair. If the ones in the niches don't like the options they're being given, they can always make their own.
            • by Bert64 (520050)

              How do you propose that someone who's blind go about writing their own software and reverse engineering someone else's proprietary formats in order to make that software usable?

              • They'll figure something out. Beethoven was deaf and yet managed to write some of the greatest musical pieces in human history.

                Or you know, maybe they could ask a friend for help.
    • by KibibyteBrain (1455987) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:52PM (#30417124)
      They are not opposing this treater per se, but instead any treaty that would set exceptions to the status quo of copyrights. They view it as a threatening precedent to allow any exceptions to copyright law, because it might snowball into eventually allowing society to think about more radical change to copyright.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @05:57PM (#30417618) Journal

        They are not opposing this treater per se, but instead any treaty that would set exceptions to the status quo of copyrights. They view it as a threatening precedent to allow any exceptions to copyright law, because it might snowball into eventually allowing society to think about more radical change to copyright.

        More radical change to copyright?
        During the first 186 years of America, copyright doubled from 28 to 56 years.
        During the last 34 years, copyright has more or less doubled again to 95/120 or life + 70years.

        I think it's rather obvious who has been proposing the radical changes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      They're opposed to their rights being weakened in any way whatsoever. They DON'T CARE about anything else. They DON'T CARE about consumers. They DON'T CARE about the blind. It's all about ME ME ME, MY RIGHTS, and nobody else's.

      These companies VIGOROUSLY pursue their own rights. These companies vigorously pursue the ELIMINATION of ANYBODY ELSE's rights. They would rather the blind have no reading material at all than be allowed to impinge upon their rights, even in the most trivial of ways; and they w

    • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @08:52PM (#30418692) Homepage

      Are they afraid we would all rush out, buy some eye patches

      Arrr, I've got me eye-patch already, savvy.

  • Go8he 0390o3 yqf3 48ty5w 500.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:48PM (#30417068)

    Ist der Ruf erst mal ruiniert, lebt sich's völlig ungeniert

    (Once your reputation is ruined, you can act without shame)

    • by omb (759389)
      Genau,

      sehr richtig, Diese Arschloche muessen verrotten, selber geblindt, in der Hoelle.

      [ When will Slashdot support iso_8859-1 ???, or fix the Slashcode repository so we can? ]
      I should not have to spell it like Zu-e-rich !
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:51PM (#30417106)
    I'll just resort to Bittorrent for my books, just as I do now. If the corporations that run the US and my own country's government oppose this, I don't give a shit. I refuse to let them take away my right to read.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by brit74 (831798)
      I refuse to let them take away my right to read.

      I can understand the argument that the copyright industries should be looser with copyright in this particular case, but I'm pretty sure that their unwillingness to let you read their books for free does not amount to "letting them take away my right to read". Do you show up at concerts, and, when the ticket window is unwilling to let you inside for free, do you describe that experience as "those guys are trying to take away my right to listen to music"?
      • by tsm_sf (545316)
        Do you show up at concerts, and, when the ticket window is unwilling to let you inside for free, do you describe that experience as "those guys are trying to take away my right to listen to music"?

        Well, we used to rush the gates, but it seems like everyone in america had their balls removed at some point in the past decade.
        Actually, it just seems like we're more pro-authority than we ever have been.
    • "right to read"? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana (662181)

      I'll just resort to Bittorrent for my books, just as I do now. If the corporations that run the US and my own country's government oppose this, I don't give a shit. I refuse to let them take away my right to read.

      What part of being blind excuses you from having to pay for something the rest of us have to pay for? And, way to go supporting the companies that do publish material for you. This isn't the anime industry where fansubs were needed to help 'seed' the market outside Asia. You're stealing, plai

      • What part of being blind excuses you from having to pay for something the rest of us have to pay for?

        Nothing excuses him for that, but if he purchased an ebook for instance. And then re-downloads a different version of that same book from p2p (one that's been OCR'd, re-indexed, and re-processed for accessibility by a volunteer), then please let's not make that an infraction (civil or criminal).

        We used to have to throw pipes in the gutter and cover them with cement in the dead middle of the night, just so th

        • Nothing excuses him for that, but if he purchased an ebook for instance. And then re-downloads a different version of that same book from p2p (one that's been OCR'd, re-indexed, and re-processed for accessibility by a volunteer), then please let's not make that an infraction (civil or criminal).

          Where is the incentive for publishers etc. to change if they're getting money either way? A person is entirely excused in getting something of zero cost illegally when they are denied access to it legally. If the publishers etc. want money then they can acknowledge the market forces at work and make something worth buying.

  • OUTLAWS (Score:5, Funny)

    by d'fim (132296) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:54PM (#30417138)
    But if we outlaw books for the blind, then only the blind will have books! Oh, wait.....
  • by formfeed (703859) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:55PM (#30417160)
    the industry thought "treaty for the blind" meant "treaty readable by the blind"
    - which would seriously compromise the concept of illegible small print.
  • the bottom line (Score:4, Informative)

    by jt418-93 (450715) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @05:01PM (#30417198)

    having read more than this article about it:
    copyright holders, for the most part, are against ANYTHING that decrease their rights in any form. doesn't matter if it's for blind, crippled orphans. they should pay too. slippery slope and all that. in one of the articles the mafiaa lawyer actually said that. slippery slope in decreasing any copyright restrictions. they have worked too hard to get them increased to see things start going the other way....

    gods, i hate the monkeys on this planet sometimes...

    • Re:the bottom line (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bky1701 (979071) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @06:40PM (#30417970) Homepage
      Rights? What rights? In my mind, copyright is by no definition a "right" - it is a legal means to restrict others from using their rights. No one has a right to that, only a power (of increasingly questionable morality) granted by the government.

      Remember, in all but a select few cases, a right is not given to you; it is the natural state. Even in those select cases where a right is granted, it tends to be a proxy of a natural right. Voting is a form of the right to choose your leaders, fair trials are the right to not be unjustly imprisoned; all natural rights that existed before governments ever existed.

      There is no right to control information; there is only a legal power to do so.
    • slippery slope in decreasing any copyright restrictions. they have worked too hard to get them increased to see things start going the other way....

      There is also the other half of the slippery slope. Tighten down copyright law too far and no one can actually use your copyright protected product and so they stop buying it.

    • having read more than this article about it: copyright holders, for the most part, are against ANYTHING that decrease their profit in any form. doesn't matter if it's for blind, crippled orphans. they should pay too. slippery slope and all that. in one of the articles the mafiaa lawyer actually said that. slippery slope in decreasing any copyright restrictions. they have worked too hard to get them increased to see things start going the other way....

      gods, i hate the monkeys on this planet sometimes...

      T, FTFY. And as much as I hate it, I don't really blame them for it. They exist for a reason and the reason is profit, nothing else. Profit is *the* motivation of everything they do -- be it good or evil.

      And I tend to forgive them these days.

    • by 517714 (762276)

      Apes, not monkeys.

  • blind or shortsighted is the words i would have used to describe this corporate activity, but that would be inappropriate with the context.

  • Well this will just come back to haunt them. Google has wisely realised that you don't pick on disabilities, it makes you look, bad, like a bully. At the end of the day if I understand correctly, this is just move to make books more accessible to the blind, it's not about the blind stealing their precious content. These guys better wise up the world is changing around them. Perhaps as individuals it's time we boycotted and voted with our choices. Horrible.
  • by omb (759389)
    The US content Industry does it again, after Banksters, these Executives are the most greedy, egregious and un-feeling.

    The only solution, to modify COPYRIGHT time limits back to sensible values eg 25 years or 10 years after author's death, whichever is shorter.

    The only innovation in consumer creative enterprise is now happening in spite of, rather than because of these monopolistic idiots, eg Harry Potter, written by an unmarried mum in a cafe in Edinburough.

    As usual, the major obstacle, is to get the US le
  • Compromise? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by e9th (652576)
    How about this. It's completely acceptable to no-one, but would allow the blind access to digitized books:
    Any work can be played by a synthesized voice on readers owned by the blind, until such time as a licit spoken version is available from the publisher.
    This would give the publisher an incentive to release audible versions read by the author/professional reader, while allowing the blind access until that time (should it ever come, which in the case of most books, it won't).
  • by t0p (1154575) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @05:29PM (#30417402) Homepage
    Seems to me a lot of people are replying to this without reading the article. Nothing new there, but if said people did read it, they might stop making some pretty dumb comments. Allow me to quote a relevant passage: -------- Many WIPO nations, most in the industrialized world including England, the United States and Canada, have copyright exemptions that usually allow non-profit companies to market copyrighted works without permission. They scan and digitize books into the so-called universal Daisy format, which includes features like narration and digitized Braille. The Daisy Corp. Consortium, a Swiss-based international agency, controls formatting worldwide and has some 100 companies under its direction across the globe. The largest catalog rests in the United States, in which three non-profits, including the Library of Congress, host some half million digital titles produced by federal grants and donations. As it now stands, none of the nations may allow persons outside their borders to access these works, which are usually doled out for little or no charge. The treaty seeks to free up the cross-border sharing of the books for the blind. ------------ A simple example: A British non-profit organization makes books to give/sell cheaply to blind people in Britain *as is currently allowed by WIPO treaty*. But the Brisish organization can't give surplus books to blind people in Ireland. They have to destroy them. The proposal would allow the British organization to give the books to blind foreigners. Just like "piracy" huh? (idiots) Apparently, the industry opposes this on "principle". That's good. It's okay to fuck over the blind so log as it's a principled fucking-over.
    • Thanks for the summary. I take it that the businesses are determined to screw the blind. Its foolish business like this that make it certain that we need state regulation to protect the disadvantaged. Anyone care to explain why its a good idea to screw over blind people? Is it to get me to vote for the state to regulate everything because its obvious that business has no sense of responsibility at all and is greedy enough to kill the planet, pitchfork babies, mutate the unborn and generally treat us all lik

      • I don't think they're "determined to screw the blind". They're just greedy bastards.

        Now, personally, I don't actually have that much problem with "honest" greed. Google make a ton of money out of making the best search engine. I don't want to stop that.

        But these guys are bastards. They constantly lobby to extend copyright beyond what's sensible (it should be about 30 years). They release products which they know are faulty (like movies which are crash marketed because they know that the word-of-mouth will k

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      But the Brisish organization can't give surplus books to blind people in Ireland. They have to destroy them. The proposal would allow the British organization to give the books to blind foreigners.

      Since TFA is talking about about digitized books, saying things like "can't give surplus books to blind people in Ireland" and "They have to destroy them" makes me wonder whether or not you actually understand what's being discussed here.

      This is about allowing National organizations to share e-books for the blind internationally.
      There is nothing surplus and nothing to be destroyed.

  • When, inevitably, these douche bags find themselves lobbying some government for "fair treatment", this conduct would be a lovely thing to throw in their face. Especially in an election year.

  • by osssmkatz (734824) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @06:53PM (#30418068) Journal

    bookshare.org legally operates out of an exemption from copyright law that allows the visually impaired to subscribe to a library of ebooks in an accessible format. (DAISY)

    I imagine the treaty just extends this internationally.

    --Sam

  • Yet again they have to be the vil black sheep that ruins it for everyone else. Do they not realise blind people are rolling in cash and should be paying a premium for anything.
  • Why is anyone surprised?

  • A few months ago I was helping a sight impaired individual set up their computer. I ran into a snag, and went looking online for some help. I came across a person and their exact words were to me... "Why would a blind person need a computer? Unfortunately, this person was not the first one I ran across online. On rare occasions it just floors me on the remarks I get from some people. Some of them act like they (sight given) have the only right to be online. A few I wished I could of given them a k
  • i wonder if there are still any morons who are willing to give me shit about american system, 'free' market, and the 'invisible' hand ...

    what i see is there is no freedom, there is no system, and 'the hand' is bashing on our heads, leave aside being invisible.

  • What are you going to do when they do this?

    Move to another country? LOL ^^

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