"TPP Undermines User Control and That’s Disastrous for Accessibility"

Maira Sutton has published "TPP Undermines User Control and That's Disastrous for Accessibility" in Deeplinks.

Here's an excerpt:

The passage of the Marrakesh Treaty led to a change in the TPP's Limitations and Exceptions section of the Intellectual Property chapter, expanding the definition of a legitimate use as one that is "facilitating access to works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled" (some of this wording is still contested, but on the whole is included in the most recent leak of the agreement). This was of course a welcome change to see in the TPP.

What's worrying however, is that in order to pass a new international exception for other kinds of disabilities, such as for the deaf, it will require another agonizing, years-long process. While Marrakesh was intended to set a lower limit on the number of potential exceptions for accessibility, the wording of trade agreements like the TPP could turn the same language into an upper limit. This is due to its approach to copyright exceptions, exemplified by its "three-step test" provision. It's a set of criteria that governments must follow in order to pass any new exception (like say, allowing works to be used for educational or even accessibility purposes). In practice, the three-step test can embolden restrictions against using copyrighted works, rather than being more permissive like fair use.

So instead of providing only a narrow right to people with visual impairments, the TPP could include an exception that would help anyone who has difficulty accessing work due to a disability. But unlike at Marrakesh there are no representatives of the disabled to make that argument in the closed negotiating rooms of the TPP.

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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.