18 Sep

THE ROAD TO MARRAKESH  & BACK TO THE JUDICIARY                (c) Carrie Devorah

Can the Judiciary see its way to making Judiciary’s last hearing before summer’s Camp For Congress a  Do Over so the Blind can lead those Blinded by Technology?  Congress has to do a Do Over. This isnt even a question, it’s a must.

September 12 the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law hosted a round up of The 2013 Marrakesh Treaty: Providing Access To Copyrighted Works For the Blind and Print Disabled that recalibrates the impression of the Blind and Technology. This was the first public forum on the international treaty “with the main focus on defining minimum standards for copyright limitations and exceptions rather than establishing conditions for enhanced proprietary rights”, their words, challenged with doing good without doing bad, knowing there are people out there ‘looking to recalibrate domestic law’ and to use the forum as a door to a human rights treaty.

Professor Peter Jasci moderated the Panelists sharing their experiences of The Miracle at Marrakesh. Audience attendees got a flavor of the challenge of bringing together opposing interests in an endeavor which may be best described as roping cats with a tumbleweed, seemingly impossible. The Miracle of Marrakesh gathered at the first event post the Treaty included Justin Hughes a teacher at Cardozo Law School, Scott LaBarre general counsel of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, James Love the US Co-chair of the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue Intellectual Property Policy Committee, Marc Maurer president of the National Federation of the Blind, Lateef Mtima Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, Ruth Okediji a professor of law at the University of Minnesota’s Law School, Shira Perlmutter Chief Policy Officer a the USPTO, Luis Villarroel director of Research at the Latin American Center For Intellectual Property Research For Development, Nancy Weiss, Allan Adler is the General Counsel Association of American Publishers, Jonathan Band and Daniel Conway amongst others. The Lure For Completion of the Marrakesh Treaty, it seems, was Stevie Wonder’s temptation if the Treaty was finished, Wonder would fly in and perform a Concert.

June 2013, the Treaty was completed. Stevie Wonder flew in as promised. The wildest attendees rockin’ it out in the aisles, it seems, was the Librarians. Wink. Always suspected that didn’t you…..

It is the words of one man, in particular, the Judiciary must hear, well, two. Justin Hughes clarified the Marrakesh Treaty provides that Royalties are paid to Authors. Hughes has led the US delegation for the Marrakesh Treaty and the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. Hughes was the Director of Cardozo Law Schools Intellectual Property program and a faculty director at the schools Indie Film Clinic. The other man is Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. Dr Maruer says the “organized blind are the best equipped people to solve the problems facing them have set the tone and are guiding the organization in to this exciting new period of growth and accomplishment.”

Justin Hughes made it clear, at American University, that the Marrakesh Treaty did in fact provide for Authors and/or Artists to be paid for their IP along with all other Rights holders. End of story. Almost.

Marc Maurer said it better.

Marc asked for a few more moments before his panel ended to add one more comment. Marc said it has been a few years since he testified before Congress. Marc said words Congress must hear, a point that will counter the wrongful impression Judiciary witness Benetech’s Jim Fruchterman gave of the Blind –  of needing charity, of approving that Authors are not paid for their Works and that books are being donated. And the Judiciary will have the opportunity to clarify that in fact Benetech has received over $50 million dollars in Government Grants monies along with millions in Venture Capitol funds, over the years for the project(s) Fruchterman says benefits the blind, Fruchterman feels deserve charity.

Fruchterman’s words, in an online interview, his business for the blind is the only one of his ventures to turn a profit,  the business using Chaffee Amendment and Fair Use the Blind to be fall guys for File Sharing claims if they are made. Fruchterman testified publishers give him books. Dr Marc Maurer made it clear. The Blind dont want Charity. They just want the same books Seeing People have access too. The Blind just want to be treated normal. The Blind want to pay Authors their due royalties. The Blind don’t want to take money from other people. AND THAT  is not was not the walk-away impression attendees to the Judiciary hearing of Innovation and Technology witness, Bookshare’s Jim Fruchterman gave.

It is the words of this one man, Dr. Maurer, the Judiciary must hear. Dr. Marc Maurer said loud and clear, at the Miracle of Marrakesh Reunion up at American Universitty,  stating quietly with strength, ‘I don’t want charity. I want to pay.’..


There goes the reality of the Bookshare program for the Blind the witness, knew  was an illegal file sharing model when he implemented it. Fructherman said so in interviews, one after the other after the other.

The presentation of Blind as indigent is offensive. All Blind and other disabled people want is to be treated normal, given the same opportunity as everyone else. It is the words of Marc Maurer that must become the benchmark for Congress at every Hearing going forward where a person represents their Constituents as needing handouts. Congress, ASK THE CONSTITUENTS. Led the Blind lead the Blinded with their Insights from learning to see inside of people’s motivations.

Books in an accessible format moving the visually disabled community past the Book Famine described by the WBU, the World Blind Union. Few Authors will say no to making money. Few Blind persons will argue paying it to read. I pointed out the road map forward for Blind reading contemporary books is already written in the availability of existing technology for Downloads and Audio books the blind are able to access and  listen to. The challenge? Is how do we get the world to see steps forward to accomplish the goal Marc Maurer revealed… Simple. Start with Congress. Legislate that someone who uses disabled to profit isnt fit to testify before Congress.

Blind may be blind. They aren’t disabled. They are proud. They don’t want charity. They want to be just like us…. Simple. Ask the blind dad I met at Sbarros’, father to three blind sons… ask the man I met on the Metro…. Ask Marc, Judiciary, in one seat at the Witness Table. And ask Bookshare about the Blind, about his Human Rights initiatives connectivity linked in his Tax Returns to Benetech and Bookshare… in the other chair….then focus on the real Miracle of Marrakesh…. Bringing the Road To Marrakesh to Celebration on Capitol Hill


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