[A2k] IP-Watch: Four More WIPO Members Sign Marrakesh Treaty For Visually Impaired

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Apr 30 23:51:12 PDT 2014


Four More WIPO Members Sign Marrakesh Treaty For Visually Impaired

By Catherine Saez and Maëli Astruc for Intellectual Property Watch on
30/04/2014 @ 11:00 pm

During a signing ceremony held today at the World Intellectual Property
Organization, the European Union, France, Greece and India signed the
treaty adopted last June to provide a wider access to copyrighted books in
special format for visually impaired people.

The Marrakesh Treaty <http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/marrakesh> [1] to
Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually
Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled has now been
 [2][pdf] by 64 of WIPO’s 187 members.

The Marrakesh Treaty will enter into force three months after 20 parties
have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession. To date no
countries appear to have implemented the treaty.

The signing ceremony was held during the 27th session of the WIPO Standing
Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) taking place from 28 April
to 2 May.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said at the event that the signature of
the treaty by a country is a public indication of its commitment to the
goals of the treaty. In this case, the goal is to end a book famine by
improving access to published works in accessible formats for the 260
million blind persons in the world as well as those affected with other
print disabilities.

The Indian delegate said India introduced copyright exceptions for
physically disabled people, including visually impaired people, through the
copyright amendment Act of 2012, which came into effect in June 2012. The
Act is in accordance with the Marrakesh Treaty, she said, adding that
“India will be ratifying this treaty very soon.”

However, the task does not end here, she said, adding, “We have to put in
place appropriate mechanisms to implement the provisions of this treaty in
its true spirit with cooperation of all of the member states and the
international bureau of WIPO.”

A Greek delegate, speaking in her national capacity and in the presidency
for the European Union, said, “we want to convey a strong message that we
want this treaty to work and serve its original purpose, that is to
accommodate the needs of blind and print disabled [persons] when it comes
to access to books and to other print material.”

The European Union ambassador separately said the negotiations at WIPO were
complex but they resulted in a treaty that is targeted and balanced. It
meets the needs of print disabled persons, she said, but “does not limit
the rights of authors and publishers beyond what is necessary to achieve
its purposes.”

“This treaty will make a difference for many people around the world,” she
said. “Therefore, we should all make our best efforts towards its rapid
ratification and entry into force.”

The representative of the European Blind Union said when the treaty is
ratified it will open up “huge new opportunities ” for over 30 million
blind and partially sighted people living in Europe in terms of access to
information and culture, as well as people with other print disabilities.
He also called for a speedy ratification of the treaty in signatory
countries. Ratification must be as widespread as possible, he said, because
only organisations in countries which ratify the treaty will be able to
exchange books under the terms of this treaty.

The Marrakesh Treaty has been devised to facilitate cross-border exchange
of copyrighted books in special formats.

The International Publishers Association representative said the Marrakesh
Treaty is a humanitarian treaty and “humanitarian treaties do not allow for
delay.” He underlined the importance of collaboration between organisations
representing of the visually impaired and those representing right holders
“who want their works to be available to everybody at the same time, the
same place, in whatever format they chose” to achieve the goals of the

*Panellists Underline Implementation Challenges*

Meanwhile, a 28 April side event to the SCCR, discussed implementation of
the Marrakesh Treaty with a focus on advancing accessibility in India.

G.R. Raghavender, registrar of copyrights and a director in the Indian
Copyright Office, said that organisations entitled to produce copies in
accessible formats have to work for non-profit purposes, and can only
charge expenses for the copy. Organisations that want to produce copies in
accessible format on a profitable basis have to apply to the Copyright
Board and can be granted a compulsory licence.

Raghavender said India’s ratification of the treaty is expected by the end
of May 2014.

Other panellists at the side event were: Ashok Gupta, president of the
Federation of Indian Publishers; Dipendra Manocha, president of the DAISY
forum of India, which is a network of 94 organisations aiming at providing
books in accessible formats for visually impaired people; and Charudatta
Jadhav, head of innovation strategy at TATA Consultancy Services, which
developed an online platform of accessible copies.

Panellists highlighted challenges that India is facing in implementing the
Marrakesh Treaty, as 25 percent of the world blind population lives in
India, a large country counting 22 official languages and 24 states.

Addressing technology gaps, capacity-building and training of all
stakeholders, collaboration between publishers and accessible formats
copies producers, translation to and adaptation from all Indian languages
were some of the challenges addressed to make books accessible for the
visually impaired community in India.

“We considered how technology can help to work on these challenges” said

Gupta and Manocha stressed the need for capacity building at several levels
and for training to the industry, but also to visually impaired persons,
notably to use the technological devices.

Gupta said the Marrakesh Treaty is a “balanced treaty” which takes into
account “interests of all stakeholders in a reasonable manner.” A lot of
entities will be authorised to produce books in accessible formats said
Gupta, who suggested a centralised agency to regulate those entities and to
serve as a central depository.

The side event was the second of a WIPO series entitled, From Policy to
Practice: Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty and making accessible books
available. Dilip Sinha, ambassador and permanent representative of India to
the United Nations, was the moderator of the panel.

Article printed from Intellectual Property Watch: *http://www.ip-watch.org

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] Marrakesh Treaty: *http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/marrakesh

[2] now been signed:

[3] Miracle In Marrakesh: “Historic” Treaty For Visually Impaired
Agreed: *http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/06/26/miracle-in-marrakesh-historic-treaty-for-visually-impaired-agreed/

[4] EU Wrestles With Procedure For Signing Marrakesh Treaty For Visually
Impaired: *http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/04/03/eu-wrestles-with-procedure-for-signing-marrakesh-treaty-for-visually-impaired/

[5] WIPO Members Inch Toward Visually Impaired Treaty:

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