Friday, November 27, 2009

Notes from the Meeting between Civil Society Organization Members and Korean Government (MCST)

Notes from the Meeting between Civil Society Organization Members and Korean Government (MCST)

November 27, 2009

MCST: Why national civil society groups are interested in the proposed WIPO Treaty? What makes CSO members take part in such a movement?

CSO: Although Korean domestic laws already have provisions similar to the proposed WIPO Treaty, access to foreign works can be enhanced by the proposed WIPO Treaty. Our participation is also vital for the shared aims of people with reading disabilities all over the world.

MCST: Korean delegation is "supportive" of the proposed WIPO Treaty and hopes the proposal will become an international treaty as proposed, rather than weakened. One of the concerns is that some delegations =96 including that of the US =96 worry that the proposed WIPO Treaty may encourage copyright infringements, which are already prevalent. If such concern is not relaxed, entering into a treaty is to be delayed. Furthermore, since the WIPO Internet Treaty of 1996 we have not seen any other treaty concluded within the WIPO (e.g. the broadcasting treaty); getting agreement on such a treaty for people with reading disabilities is also difficult. But the text of a treaty is already on the table and this is a good start.

MCST: Concerning the "alternative ways" to which the Korean delegation referred at the WIPO meeting, the MCST has no clear ideas about what exactly these =93alternative ways=94 are, and the Korean delegation is not in a position to oppose the proposed WIPO Treaty. When the WIPO discusses a treaty, any urgent efforts by the WIPO necessary for helping people with reading disabilities are likely to be halted because the WIPO is an intergovernmental organization with limited resources. [On the other hand, according to a local news story (, the "alternative ways" may include "recommendations" which are easier to agree on than a treaty that may take more than 10 years, says an official of the MCST.

CSO: Our concern is that many industrialized countries have indirectly expressed their opposition and that the Korean government has frequently followed the U.S. position. So the statement on "alternative ways" seems to be no different from such indirect opposition. Nonetheless, we welcome if the MCST is in a supportive position and demand a clear expression of support from the Korean delegation at the next session of the SCCR.

MCST: Concerning domestic policy on people with reading disabilities, publishers still oppose the recently revised provisions in the Copyright Act regarding copyright limitation for such people. Thus the MCST focuses more on practical issues such as how to ensure the prevention of copyright infringement in the process of converting copyrighted works into an accessible format for people with reading disabilities.

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