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Sean Michaels

guardian.co.uk

Tuesday 21 September 2010 11.40 BST  Singer offers to perform an ‘incredible concert’ if copyright law is changed – but threatens to ‘write a song about what you didn’t do’ if not

Stevie Wonder  has become a copyright crusader, lobbying the UN’s intellectual property division for better access to audiobooks.

In a speech to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the singer called for unified copyright rules that would improve audiobook access for visually impaired people.

More than 300m people “live in the dark” and want to “read their way into light”, Wonder explained to the 184-nation WIPO meeting in Geneva. At stake is the UN’s international copyright framework, which has been under revision for six years. Groups representing blind and visually impaired people argue that the current licensing system for audiobooks presents a major obstacle to education, and that they should be able to freely adapt texts into more accessible formats. “We must declare a state of emergency and end the information deprivation,” Wonder said.

Although his speech was just 10 minutes long, Wonder offered a compelling voice for activists’ arguments. Humming scraps of songs like My Cherie Amour and I Just Called to Say I Love You, Wonder explained that “people know the songs because they were able to hear them”. Other kinds of information were locked behind walls due to inaccessibility, or the cost of adaptation. “There are people who have probably even far more to offer than myself who are locked into this kind of prison because information is not available to them,” he said.

Read in Full:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/21/stevie-wonder-lobbies-un-audiobooks



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