U.S. Welcomes Efforts to Address Book Famine for Visually Impaired

Closing Statement at the Meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)

Delivered by
Justin Hughes,
Special Advisor to the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Geneva, Switzerland,
November 23, 2012

(as delivered)

We are pleased about the results of this SCCR meeting.  In December 2009, the United States delegation came to the SCCR and said that we had concluded that it was the time to fashion new norms in International copyright to address what we believe is a legitimate concern, the book famine – the unjustifiable lack of availability of special format copies for visually impaired persons and for persons with print disabilities — throughout the world.  We believe that the book famine exists and we believe our work here can go a substantial way – not all the way – to addressing the problem.  We want to thank all the delegations here that have worked together with us in so many different configurations in 2011 and this year.

As we said earlier today in the informal sessions, it has been two years of meetings that have shown tremendous goodwill among a bunch of people of very strong wills.  We think that we could not have imagined a more conducive and cooperative environment, where people were completely honest about what’s important to them and what they need to see in our work going forward.

Like so many delegations here, we believe that we made tremendous progress this week.  We also, like other delegations here, believe that there is tremendous work to be done and considerable work that we have to do to conclude this.  We will be taking this working document home, and I assure you that everyone on the U.S. Delegation will be working diligently to explain it in Washington, to seek support for it in our capital, and we are very hopeful of bringing back a favorable decision in December.

We would offer to join the flexibility boat, if we knew where it was parked.  And we do believe that we want to thank everyone for the flexibility they have shown, not just the flexibility, but the creativity they have shown and the capacity to listen to one another.

Mr. Chairman, as everyone knows, this week has brought the American delegation here during a week when we are normally celebrating one of our most important holidays, Thanksgiving.  And while many of us had to do without our normal Thanksgiving ceremony and celebration, we are thankful for the results of this SCCR.