Addressing the Proposed WIPO International Instrument on Limitations and Exceptions for Persons with Print Disabilities: Recommendation or Mandatory Treaty?
28 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2011 Last revised: 29 Mar 2019
Date Written: November 14, 2011
This Working Paper addresses the proposed WIPO International Instrument on Limitations and Exceptions for Persons with Print Disabilities. We conclude that if WIPO wants to achieve compliance, this proposed instrument should be binding hard law. Enacting this agreement as soft law would undermine the goal of making copyrighted works accessible to persons with print disabilities.
Generally, hard law prevents instruments from becoming dead letter agreements. Soft law is a less appropriate solution where there is already consensus and specificity, as there is here. Soft law also creates inefficiencies, as countries try to determine how to satisfy its vaguer aspirations.
In the human rights context, because the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities has not been implemented domestically, soft law will fail to mobilize domestic actors. Soft law also will not be sufficiently strong to protect the human rights of people with disabilities, traditionally a weaker sector.
In the international copyright context, hard law is necessary because of the complicated web of existing hard law in the field. If WIPO wishes for the proposed instrument to counter hard law established in other forums, it should make the instrument binding. Otherwise, developing countries will not implement the instrument, and WIPO will fail to reach those persons with print disabilities most in need of an international solution.
Keywords: WIPO, Treaty for Persons with Print Disabilities, Three-Step Test, Limitations and Exceptions, Fair Use, Treaty for the Blind
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