IPA Blog

Embracing accessible publishing

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For the last four years, as Vice-President and then President of the International Publishers Association, I promoted accessible publishing around the world, talking with key stakeholders of the book industry and addressing multiple audiences about the commitment of the IPA to this important matter. My main goal was to explain what accessible publishing is and what it means, to communicate its significance, and to convince publishers to go accessible by signing the Charter for Accessible Publishing of the Accessible Books Consortium. Being actively involved with the issue has made me passionate about it, and I am thrilled to be able to continue working to increase the number of accessible publications. I would like to thank the Chair of IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee, past president Michiel Kolman, for his invitation to coordinate our efforts in favour of accessibility.

I have come to believe that accessible publishing is something all publishers should and must embrace.

Publishers should embrace accessible publishing because of its moral significance. Books bring us joy, inspiration, and knowledge, and they make us think, imagine, and create. Books are magical, but sadly over 285 million Visually Impaired People (VIPs) worldwide1 have access to less than 10% of published works2. Imagine never having the opportunity to read everything that shaped you to be the person you are now. As publishers we have the moral obligation of allowing everybody to enter this magical world of books, including any person with a visual impairment.

I know many publishers may not see this as a priority. The threats to the core of our business, especially copyright infringement and threats to the freedom to publish, can already be overwhelming enough to worry about something for purely moral reasons. But that is the thing. Accessible publishing is not about charity. It is about doing the right thing, also in terms of our business models. This is why I also say we must embrace it. Accessible publishing is inherent to modern publishing, and I will show it through four compelling reasons.

First, for most types of publications, when born accessible, it is easy and low cost. Thus, books have to be envisioned, from their very conception, in accessible formats. The technology already exists, and it will continue to develop, making it easier and even more affordable for publishers facing greater accessibility barriers. Furthermore, as the industry faces a staggering need of digital transformation, something we have seen in the last two decades and that has become more than obvious during the COVID-19 Pandemic, accessible publishing is a tiny step in the digital path publishers are already taking.

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WIPO SCCR 40 Day 4: Wrapping Up

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The hybrid 40th SCCR maintained the traditional schedule of a normal meeting and so reserved the last session for a quick review of the subjects which are vying for a position on the formal SCCR policy agenda: a miscellany it gathers together as ‘Other Matters’.

Those subjects are 

  • Copyright in the digital environment.
  • Resale Right
  • Rights of theatre directors
  • Proposal for a study on public lending right

The proposal for a study on public lending right was on this list for the first time following the request by the delegation of Sierra Leone at SCCR 39 (and since supported by Panama and Malawi). 

The update presentations and reactions from delegates and observers was efficient and eerie, both. In full measure.

And with that, Mr Abdoul Aziz Dieng of Sénégal, thanked all of the participants, the Chair’s summary was read out, and the meeting closed. 

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Discussions on copyright exceptionally limited

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Day 3 of the hybrid SCCR 40 saw the Exceptions and Limitations discussions take centre stage. Given the decision of Member States to limit interactions at this meeting to stock-taking, the main focus was on the 130-page report issued by WIPO following the three Regional Seminars held in 2019 in SingaporeNairobi and Santo Domingo and the subsequent international conference held in Geneva last October. The IPA participated in all these events, gathering together local publishers and coordinating closely with representatives of other stakeholders, including authors and CMOs.  

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WIPO diary SCCR 40 (days 1 & 2): SCCR 40 — A sight for square eyes

Copyright: WIPO. Photo: Emmanuel Berrod. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 IGO License.

This first meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of 2020 is an almost 100% virtual affair, save for a handful of people in the plenary chamber in Geneva, with a dramatically reduced programme of a couple of hours per day, and with a promise of no normative (or law-making) discussions on any of the agenda items. 

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WIPO diary SCCR39 (day 5): SCCR 39 Diplomatic offline, ugly online

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SCCR 39 concluded this evening with an agreement found on how to keep the Exceptions and Limitations discussion moving forward and the other agenda items wrapped up and a possible new issue raised in the chamber.

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WIPO Diary SCCR39 (Day 4) – Are we still talking TV?

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The second day of discussions on the broadcasting treaty were mainly conducted behind closed doors with the plenary chamber finally filling at 17:40 for a presentation of conclusions.

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WIPO Diary SCCR39 (day 3) – From books to broadcasting

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Today’s discussions saw the focus shift from Exceptions and Limitations to the Broadcasting Treaty (and sadly not about all of the value generated by the copyright in an original work that migrates from being a book to a film, for example). The Exceptions and Limitations discussions are not over, by any stretch of the imagination, and they continue to rumble behind closed doors.

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WIPO Diary SCCR39 (day 2): Glocalising Digital Education

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The first day closed with Dr Kenneth Crews waiting to be grilled by delegates and observers. He was given the opportunity this morning, but the highlights today were the side events and the ripples from some late-night messages to delegates.

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WIPO Diary SCCR 39 (Day 1): Early Birds and Worms

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While the publishing industry was gathered in Frankfurt last week for the most important international book fair in the world, the action was already starting at WIPO in Geneva with an International Conference on Exceptions and Limitations on Friday and Saturday 18-19 October.

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Notes from the road: to the Andes and back

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Between end of July and early September I had the chance of participating in several important events throughout Latin America. A region full of contrasts, where a wealthy, vigorous parts of society still coexists with undeserving levels of poverty. An assignment still to solve. Every country with a different, rich culture and traditions and enchanting people.

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Reading is for everyone: An Interview with Hugo Setzer on the importance of accessibility in the publishing industry

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On the topic of inclusion, we tend to focus on the areas of gender and sexual orientation. What does not receive as much attention is the area of accessibility. Simply put, having our products and services designed for people with disabilities speaks to the core of what publishers care about; the ability to reach and convey understanding to our target audiences. Accessibility is a key focus at the IPA, and the current IPA President, Hugo Setzer, is leading the call for publishers to support inclusive publishing practices. I caught up with Hugo to find out more; 

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 38) Day 5: The Final Hurrah

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Friday at SCCR 38 was for “other matters” – copyright in the digital environment, resale right and theatre directors. 

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 38) Day 4: Typologies galore

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Following Wednesday’s jam-packed day of presentations and side-events, you could feel a drop in energy in the chamber today as a number of reports were presented.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 38) Day 3 – Exceptions, exceptions, exceptions (and limitations)

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Wednesday morning, before the start of the WIPO plenary session, IPA had two important meetings. Firstly, we were invited to take part in a regular briefing that the US delegation offers particular stakeholders at every SCCR. Secondly, IPA then met with the Asia-Pacific Group which includes Members States from a huge swathe of territory from the Middle East to islands in the Pacific. In a friendly meeting, we asked if there were reviews of copyright on the horizon among their members. We discussed the upcoming WIPO regional conferences (the first of which, will be at the end of April, in Singapore) as well as various other events and projects within their borders. These types of meetings are very important to ascertain current positions and plumb possible future shifts.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR38) Day 2: An informal day in the chamber but buzzing around it

The second day of the 38th session of the WIPO SCCR, began with the regular meeting the IPA organizes on Tuesday morning for the representatives of the Creative Sector Organisations Group that we coordinate. On the 13th floor of the WIPO building with sweeping views up Lake Geneva towards Lausanne, we convened a meeting that included representatives of the music, film and collective management sectors as well as publishing. The purpose of the meeting is to brief those who had missed the first day’s action and to plan what we will do for the rest of the week.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 38) Day 1: Copyright and Sport

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Yesterday was the first day of the 38th session of the WIPO SCCR. If you need to re-familiarise yourself with what has happened previously and some of the WIPO lingo here are links to previous diaries, our jargon buster and the official SCCR page.

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SCCR 38 - looking ahead

Today, we begin the week-long, 38thsession of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). For those of you new to these conferences, we direct you to our summary of where we ended up last time (in November 2018).  

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 37) Day 4: Racing toward the finish line

Following yesterday’s exceptions and limitations marathon, today was a much shorter affair as the SCCR raced through the agenda. The morning session kicked off with NGOs asked to comment on the progress (or, in the eyes of many civil society organisations, the absence thereof) around exceptions for archives.

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5 Things I Learned in The First Day of IPC 2018

Today was the first day of the 32nd edition of the International Publishers Congress, and this year it is hosted in New Delhi, India.

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International Publishers Congress Blog - Day 2

After yesterday's intense high-level discussions about the future of publishing, copyright and freedom to publish, the second day began with a series of panels about the nitty gritty of publishing and finished with an emotional roller coaster and two standing ovations.

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