Yesterday, the Legal Affairs Committee in the European Parliament voted unanimously to introduce an exception to the copyright monopoly to benefit the public at large. This is an important dent in the monopoly’s sanctity.
Christian Engström, Member of European Parliament for the Pirate Party (and also a member of the Legal Affairs Committee), explains the win on his blog. In short, blind people today are banned from sharing Braille books across borders — they must be individually translated into Braille in each country, which would be a waste of resources if it were done, which it isn’t. Instead, the disabled are subjected to a so-called book famine where the culture and knowledge simply isn’t available to them.
With yesterday’s vote in the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), the European Union is going one step closer to stop this and to make any Braille books freely available across country borders.
This was a small win, but its implications are potentially enormous. For the first time in several decades, politicians voted unanimously that the public’s access to knowledge and culture is more important than the copyright monopoly. The symbolic value of that cannot be overstated.
The proposal will now move on to the Cultural Affairs Committee (CULT), and from there to a vote in the European Parliament.
That is a small, but important, dent for the blind in the copyright monopoly.
UPDATE: Pirate Party Australia points out that European Commissioner Barnier still wants to deny culture to the blind. Showdown between Commission and Parliament ahead, like so many times before, with the Commission on the side of Big Corp and the Parliament on the side of… well, the voters.