The 25th Meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) concluded on Friday 24th November with some progress made towards the concluding of an international instrument for visually impaired persons (VIP). In addition, while there was only a very short period of time allocated to the discussion of copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, delegates also reaffirmed their commitment to work on this issue in pursuit of  recommendations being made to the WIPO General Assembly in SCCR 28 in 2014.

Intense discussions took place throughout the week on the working text of the proposed instrument for visually impaired persons with delegates often working until 9pm to iron out differences and agree wording. Civil society groups representing libraries and the visually impaired often had to watch from the sidelines as discussions took place in informal sessions, although there was commendable outreach from some delegations to gather views and opinions as the negotiations progressed.

SCCR 25 was notable for a public declaration from the European Union which stated it was now willing to back a binding treaty for visually impaired persons. The World Blind Union and other groups representing the visually impaired welcomed this statement, but also cautioned that the United States has not yet adopted the same position.

By Friday evening it was agreed that further work on the VIP text would take place ahead of the Extraordinary General Assembly in Geneva on December 17-18. The Extraordinary General Assembly will decide whether or not to recommend the convening of a diplomatic conference any VIP instrument in 2013. The meeting’s conclusions also recommended that the library document on the table, SCCR/23/8, should be made more reader friendly, and that the next meeting of the SCCR in July 2013 will continue text-based work and consider whether a three-day inter-sessional meeting devoted to libraries and archives should be held later in the year.

You can also find the final conclusions here.