[A2k] European Commission proposes ratification of Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to books for visually impaired persons

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Oct 21 09:21:19 PDT 2014


European Commission proposes ratification of Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate
access to books for visually impaired persons

The Commission has today proposed the ratification, on behalf of the
European Union, of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published
Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print
Disabled. The Treaty will ensure that books in formats such as Braille,
large print, e-books and audio books with special navigation tools,
produced under copyright exceptions, can be exchanged across borders, not
only within the EU but also between the EU and third countries.

Michel Barnier, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of
Internal Market and Services, said "The Marrakesh Treaty will simplify the
lives of millions of visually impaired people around the world. The EU can
help to improve access to books with equal conditions for all and
contribute to the fight against the book famine. The Commission’s proposal
is a signal that Europe is ready to support the rapid entry into force of
this important Treaty. I count on the Council and the European Parliament
to authorise the ratification as soon as possible."


The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 285 million people
worldwide are visually impaired: 39 million are blind and 246 million have
low vision.

The World Blind Union reports that in Europe only 5% of published books are
available in an accessible format for visually impaired persons, while in
developing countries this rate is as low as 1%.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is the United Nations
agency responsible for intellectual property (patents, copyright,
trademarks, designs, etc.). Between 17 and 28 June 2013, WIPO held a
Diplomatic Conference in Marrakesh to conclude a Treaty to facilitate
access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or
otherwise print disabled. The Treaty creates mandatory exceptions to
copyright that allow organisations for blind people to produce, distribute
and make available accessible format copies to visually impaired persons
without the authorisation of the right holder. It also allows, under
certain conditions, for the cross-border exchange of these copies.

The Treaty was adopted on 27 June 2013 (IP/13/624
<http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-624_en.htm?locale=en> and
MEMO/13/627 <http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-627_en.htm>). The
EU, authorised by the Council, signed the Treaty on 30 April 2014 in
Geneva. Besides the EU, 79 WIPO Member States have signed the Treaty.

On the basis of the Commission’s proposal, after obtaining the consent of
the European Parliament, it is for the Council to authorise the
ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by the European Union. The Marrakesh
Treaty will enter into force after its ratification by twenty WIPO Member
States - so far, two have ratified it (India and El Salvador).

For more information:


Contacts :

Chantal Hughes <Chantal.Hughes at ec.europa.eu> (+32 2 296 44 50)

Carmel Dunne <Carmel.Dunne at ec.europa.eu> (+32 2 299 88 94)

Audrey Augier <Audrey.Augier at ec.europa.eu> (+32 2 297 16 07)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

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