WIPO Treaty on Copyright Exceptions for Visually Impaired Enters in Force

Marrakesh Treaty Enters Into Force


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WIPO Director General Francis Gurry in the above video hailed the “good news.” “We now need many more countries to join this treaty,” he said, “so as to create a world in which blind persons truly have the opportunity to participate in literacy in the same way the seeing persons do.” 

According to WIPO,  Canada was the 20th accession, preceded a day earlier by Ecuador and Guatemala.The Marrakesh Treaty contracting parties so far are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, South Korea, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Paraguay, Peru, North Korea, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay.

Just four days ago the world’s blind community were celebrating the third anniversary of the approval of the Marrakesh Treaty for visually impaired and print disabled persons,” Christopher Friend, World Blind Union Technical Advisor for the Marrakesh Treaty, told Intellectual Property Watch.  Yesterday, Wednesday,  celebrations continued with the accession of our 18th and 19th Member States: Ecuador and Guatemala. Today our celebrations go into top gear as Canada delivered its ratification document being the 20th country to ratify or accede to the Treaty,” he said.

That was the magic number we needed in order for the treaty to become operational. In three months’ time, on 30th September, the treaty will officially go into force, But only for those 20 countries that have ratified or exceeded to the Treaty so far. There are a further 170 countries whose blind communities implore their governments to ratify or exceed to the treaty without delay so that they also can benefit from a greater accessibility for reading materials and the chance to share books across borders with other countries,” he added.

This is fantastic news,” said Dan Pescod of the World Blind Union, which helped author the original proposal that led to the treaty. “WBU, our friends in civil society and indeed many governments worked hard for many years to get to this point. The book famine continues, however. We therefore need all countries to ratify the Marrakech Treaty without delay. Full ratification will mean that blind, partially sighted and other print disabled people will be able to access vastly more book titles, whether for education and pleasure.”

Teresa Hackett, EIFL Copyright and Libraries Programme Manager, told Intellectual Property Watch:  Libraries [in the ratifying countries] will be allowed for the first time to exchange accessible format copies, created on demand, with libraries in other countries. This transforms information access for persons with print disabilities and opens doors to knowledge, education, employment and personal development especially for those in the developing world.”  “It also opens doors to funding opportunities for the specialized equipment and training that is needed because, for the first time, there exists an international legal framework to enable the cross-border sharing of accessible formats,” she said. “EIFL looks forward to working with libraries on this global transformation. It’s a truly great day for everyone involved!”

Denise Nicholson, Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, says "Congratulations to all those organisations and individuals who worked so hard for such a long time to achieve access for blind and visually impaired persons.  I am privileged and humbled to have been part of this important campaign and to have worked with such wonderful, caring people in the process.  I am so happy to hear this news. This is a golden moment to celebrate but a crucial milestone for access to information and knowledge.  It opens up the world to people who have been denied access to reading material and information in the past.  I encourage my country, South Africa, and all other Member countries of WIPO to ratify this Treaty as soon as possible, to enable their citizens to enjoy the full benefits of this Treaty locally and across borders.