Obama administration plays politics with treaty on copyright exceptions for disabled people

An update on the story about the Obama administration stonewalling on a treaty to make it easier for disabled people to access copyrighted works: "Obama can't overcome opposition from a handful of mostly foreign owned publishers to support a treaty for blind people. This is a money in politics story. If blind people were financing his campaign, they would have had a treaty a year ago. The Obama administration wants the decision on the treaty delayed until the election so it will not interfere with its campaign fundraising from publishers, and so it will not suffer bad publicity for opposing the treaty, before the election." (Thanks, Jamie!)


  1. Fair enough and the point is well take – Obama makes policy decisions based on expediency…but in the end don’t all politicians. Would Romney really have acted any differently?

    I suppose what I’m saying is…duh!

    1. Can’t speak for anyone else but it’s again marginalizing the needs of the disabled that’s the frustrating part here. Bad enough you can’t see. Worse to have stuff getting held hostage because of greed and or politics.

    2. This is not an Obama vs. Romney story, or even an anti-Obama story in general, this is a “wouldn’t it be nice if money wasn’t the driving force behind most political decisions” story.

  2. What does it say about this country when I see this as totally expected behavior from the president… the candidate who was the “better” choice…  What does it say when I’m completely unsurprised, and I know that there are ZERO options for having better leadership in “my” country?  The only alternative presented is a slightly less masked corporate lickspittle.

    1. it’s not about your country american. this is the state of the world. welcome to earth, where every single decision is driven by financial gain

  3. I find it’s weird that it’s “a handful of mostly foreign owned publishers” putting this pressure on Obama when the US is the one pressuring most other developed nations to adopt its ridiculously restrictive and US-company-benefiting copyright and trade agreements.

  4. If President Obama wishes to postpone this matter until (I guess) after the elections, so as not to endanger his funding from publishers, then I strongly suspect the following: that these publishers are willing to fund, provided that the President and his team assure them that they will do all they can to bury this issue for as long as possible. That is, the funding comes with financial strings attached.

  5. Folks, I am surprised that on a tech-savvy site like this we are missing the real issue at stake, big-time. The reason more books are not available in accessible formats is that it costs too much. The US has had a copyright exemption since 1996 – why isn’t every book published in the US available in an accessible format if copyright has not been the barrier for 16 years? IT COSTS TOO MUCH.

    Now, I will tell you what is strange. Our own National Library Service for the Handicapped, run by the Library of Congress, has been spending tax payer $ to make audio recordings of books that are already available in unabridged audio from the publisher. Here is the example I love – they made a version of Steve Martin’s autobiography Born Standing Up, even though the unabridged audiobook was recorded by Steve Martin himself. Instead, the blind get to hear someone named Derald Breneman, who may be quite good for all we know – the book is only available to the blind. Why do they do this? Because they can. See for yourself:

    A treaty is not going to end the ‘book famine’, any more than a treaty could eliminate real famine. What we need is to USE TECHNOLOGY to make it easy for publishers, authors, and everyone else, to publish in accessible formats like EPUB, without getting tangled up in DRM. Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to encourage and entice publishers to be accessible up front, rather than spending charity and tax $ to re-publish the same books again in a different format only available to the blind? PLEASE think about it. I am getting tired of statements like this one: “Unless governments agree to remove copyright as a barrier to the creation of special format materials, visually impaired and disabled people will be prevented from leading rich and satisfying lives.” http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/article3693331.ece

    Can we please start looking for real ways to promote accessibility and equality, and end this pathetic pity party for the blind? Thank you.

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