Stevie Wonder to sing for blind treaty negotiators

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 27, 2013 11:55 AM
Stevie Wonder to sing for blind treaty negotiators

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.S. singer Stevie Wonder will give a concert in Marrakesh on Friday, honoring his promise to perform if negotiators concluded an international treaty boosting access to books for blind and visually impaired people worldwide.

The "Isn't She Lovely" star, who has been sightless since birth, lobbied hard for the pact approved on Thursday by more than 600 negotiators from 186 states, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said in a statement.

"This is a legacy, a gift to future generations. So let's finalize a new agreement that opens doors to the world's written treasures and moves towards a future where there are no barriers to the expansion of knowledge and enjoyment of culture," Wonder, said in a recorded video sent to the meeting this week.

"Let's get this signed, sealed, delivered, and I'm yours," he said, borrowing a verse from one of his hit songs. "Do this and I will come to Marrakesh and we will celebrate together."

The Wonder concert at the Palais des Congres, limited to participants of the diplomatic conference, is set for 2000 GMT on Friday.

The treaty aims to overcome copyright issues that have been barriers to improving access to published works in accessible formats that make it easier for the disabled to use, WIPO said.

It requires ratifying countries to adopt laws which will permit the reproduction and distribution of published works in formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books.

The pact, to be known as the "Marrakesh Treaty", enters into force when ratified by 20 member states of the U.N. agency.

"This is a balanced treaty and represents a very good arbitration of the diverse interests of the various stakeholders," WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Paul Casciato)