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Guide

Marrakesh Treaty Updates

This treaty facilitates access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled.

Background

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco and it forms part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by WIPO. It has a clear humanitarian and social development dimension and its main goal is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled. Source: World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted to amend copyright laws to enable print disabled people – especially people in developing countries – to make published works available in accessible formats.

The US signed the Marrakesh Treaty as a ‘contracting party’ in 2013; however, the US had to amend its existing copyright laws before becoming a ‘treaty member’.

Note: In the US, the Chafee Amendment (Section 121) is a specific exception to the copyright law which allows reproduction of copyrighted materials for blind or other people with disabilities. The Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, established in 1931, falls under the Chafee Amendment. 

Marrakesh Treaty Update

On October 10, 2018, the US ratified the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA) that amends the US copyright law to meet the terms of the international Marrakesh Treaty. These amendments improve access to accessible materials, including the ability to share accessible materials across borders. On May 8, 2019, the law went into effect. There are 82 member nations which have signed the MTIA.

Changes in US Copyright Law

Source: United States Copyright Office

Impact of MTIA

Note: Bookshare currently has over 700,000 books in 47 languages. Soon Bookshare will begin importing books from other Marrakesh-ratifying countries.

Source: Benetech

By Diane Brauner

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