[A2k] WIPO: Canada’s Accession to Marrakesh Treaty Brings Treaty into Force

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jun 30 04:12:43 PDT 2016


Canada’s Accession to Marrakesh Treaty Brings Treaty into Force

Geneva, June 30, 2016

Canada today became the key 20th nation to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty
to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually
Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, which will bring the Treaty into
force in three month’s time on September 30, 2016.

Video: Message from WIPO Director General

“This is great news for people with visual impairments. and for the
multilateral intellectual property system. The Marrakesh Treaty will, when
widely adopted throughout the world, create the framework for persons who
are blind and visually impaired to enjoy access to literacy in a much more
equal and inclusive way,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “I urge
as many countries as possible to ratify the Treaty so that its benefits can
be widely enjoyed throughout the world,” he added.

“I am honored that Canada is counted among the countries that together are
enabling the coming into force of the Marrakesh Treaty internationally.
Together, we are creating a more accessible world for people living with
disabilities,” said Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic
Development Navdeep Bains. “The coming into force of the Treaty will mark
the last step of a long journey toward a more inclusive global community,
where print-disabled and visually impaired people can more fully and
actively participate in society and reach their full potential,” he added.

"Today is an historic day for Canada, as we become the 20th country to
accede to the Marrakesh Treaty, which thus brings the Treaty into force. I
am proud that our government is standing up for Canadians with disabilities
and providing those with print disabilities more equitable access to
alternative-format published materials,” said Canada’s Minister of Sport
and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough. She added “As the coming
into force of this treaty becomes a reality, Canadians will benefit from
greater accessibility and opportunities in their communities and

Canada’s accession was preceded a day earlier by Ecuador and Guatemala.
Mr. Gurry paid tribute to countries in the Latin American region, who make
up half of the contracting parties so far.

India was the very first country to ratify on June 30, 2014. “India is
pleased that the 20 ratifications have been achieved to allow entry into
force of the Marrakesh Treaty,” said Ambassador Ajit Kumar, India’s
Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International
Organizations in Geneva. Expressing hope that more countries would join
very soon, he added “We will now begin to see tangible benefits to the
world’s blind and visually impaired communities.”

More than 75 WIPO member states have signed the Treaty, which was adopted
on June 27, 2013 at a diplomatic conference organized by WIPO and hosted by
the Kingdom of Morocco in Marrakesh. For the Treaty to enter into force,
twenty ratifications or accessions are required.

The first 20 countries to ratify or accede were: India, El Salvador, United
Arab Emirates, Mali, Uruguay, Paraguay, Singapore, Argentina, Mexico,
Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea, Israel, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala and Canada.

June 30, 2016 also marks the second anniversary of the Accessible Books
Consortium (ABC), which was created to help implement the objectives of the
Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who
Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled at a practical
level through work in three areas: the sharing of technical skills in
developing and least developed countries to produce and distribute books in
accessible formats, promoting inclusive publishing, and building an
international database and book exchange of accessible books.

Marrakesh Treaty – Ending the “book famine”

The Marrakesh Treaty addresses the “book famine” by requiring its
contracting parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the
reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in
accessible formats – such as Braille - through limitations and exceptions
to the rights of copyright rightholders.

It also provides for the exchange of these accessible format works across
borders by organizations that serve the people who are blind, visually
impaired, and print disabled. It will harmonize limitations and exceptions
so that these organizations can operate across borders.

This sharing of works in accessible formats should increase the overall
number of works available because it will eliminate duplication and
increase efficiency. For example, instead of five countries producing
accessible versions of the same work, the five countries will each be able
to produce an accessible version of a different work, which can then be
shared with each of the other countries.

The Treaty is also designed to provide assurances to authors and publishers
that that system will not expose their published works to misuse or
distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries. The Treaty
reiterates the requirement that the cross-border sharing of works created
based on limitations and exceptions must be limited to certain special
cases which do not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and do
not unreasonable prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightholder.

Background for Editors

According to the World Health Organization, there are some 285 million
blind and visually impaired persons in the world, 90 per cent of whom live
in developing countries. A WIPO survey in 2006 found that fewer than 60
countries have limitations and exceptions clauses in their copyright laws
that make special provision for visually impaired persons, for example, for
Braille, large print or digitized audio versions of copyrighted texts.

According to the World Blind Union, of the million or so books published
each year in the world, less than 10 per cent are made available in formats
accessible to visually impaired persons.

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