Gov’t, NGOs, private sector tackle issues to make printed works accessible to the visually-impaired/ print-disabled


Published on January 29, 2019




The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL),with key stakeholders in the government, private sector, and the non-profit industry took stock of the potential challenges in the newly-adopted Marrakesh Treaty, to ensure its implementation is as inclusive as possible.


Leading members of the Resources for the Blind Inc., National Book Development Board, National Council on Disability Affairs, Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society gathered at the IPOPHL on January 29, to lay out policy considerations in implementing the convention.


To recall, the Philippines acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty last November.


With the accession, the Philippines agrees to provide some exceptions and limitations to rules in its national copyright law to allow converting published works in formats accessible to the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled persons (VIPs), without first securing the rights-holders authorization.  These accessible formats include Braille, large-print, and audio books to name a few.


“We want to ensure the Philippine IP system will never be a barrier to education or enhancement to any sector of society so everyone will have a hand in building our economic and sociocultural edifice,” said Deputy Director General Atty. Teodoro C. Pascua in his opening remarks.


“We’re holding this public consultation to know how to make the law work for beneficiaries. We’re aiming to finish the implementing rules and regulations of this as soon as possible,” added Bureau of Copyright and Other Related Rights (BCRR) Director Atty. Emerson G. Cuyo.


Among the salient topics discussed are reconciling the provision on limitations to copyright in in Republic Act No. 10372 (the latest amendment to the IP Code), with that of the Marrakesh Treaty in terms of the accessibility formats.


Mr. Mateo Lee Jr., Deputy Executive Director of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) pushed to have strong mechanism for cross-border exchange so that foreign books may be converted to accessible formats more easily.


National Book Development Board Director Ms. Leonor G. Reyes suggested there could be government incentives for publishers and content creators to be able to import paper at a cheaper rate if these are to be used to make accessible format copies.


Mr. Ronnie del Rio, representative for the Resources for the Blind, Inc. appealed for there to be a system in place that will allow access to printed works but will also assure payment to the accessible content providers like the BookShare app.


Speaking on behalf of publishers and authors, Mr. Alvin Buenaventura of the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS) celebrated the convention’s advantages but sought clarification of converting copyrighted works to accessible format copies on a ‘non-profit’ basis.


“Our authors and publishers also need their source of livelihood. The Marrakesh Treaty itself does not prohibit collecting remuneration in the future,” Mr. Buenaventura stated.


IPOPHL is following up the initial public consultation with a larger gathering with relevant stakeholders on April, the National Intellectual Property Rights Month.