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The Beginning of the End of the Book Famine

Last Updated on June 26, 2013, 9:17 pm ET

What a difference a week makes! After a lengthy negotiation process that had many advocates wondering whether the result would be worth the effort, last night the WIPO negotiators in Marrakech passed a meaningful treaty for the visually impaired.

The Library Copyright Alliance has been involved in the treaty negotiation process from the beginning, and has issued a press release welcoming the treaty’s passage. In it, Carrie Russell points out a key fact about the treaty that may explain (but not excuse) the MPAA’s last-minute efforts to neuter the agreement:

By passing what is an exception to copyright, the World Intellectual Property Organization demonstrated that there is international support for balance in copyright law. We applaud the world delegates for approving a treaty that makes it possible for every visually-impaired person around the world to have fair access to reading materials.

And it looks like WIPO got some key details right. Perhaps most heartening, it did not remove references to fair use and fair dealing, despite the State Department’s misguided expressions of concern.

After years of legislation that has made copyright longer and stronger, WIPO has finally done something to help the public. It’s worth celebrating.