KEI (press) statement on adoption of Marrakesh Treaty for Blind

Thursday, June 27, 2013, noon Marrakesh time.

Statement by James Love
Director, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Morocco cell: +212.639.61.6030,

“Today delegates elevated the status of and opportunities for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. This is the first treaty administered by WIPO that focuses on user rights, and the first treaty at WIPO that focuses on the human right ‘to participate in the cultural life of the community.’ It will vastly expand access to works, particularly among persons who share a common language, such as English, Spanish, Arabic and French. In the end, negotiators delivered a very good text that addressed the most important barriers to access. The treaty is complex in some areas, but the obligations on those providing works to blind persons are not onerous, and all groups working on expanded access are very happy.

Among the innovations for a copyright treaty is the Article on the Respect for Privacy, the obligation to provide for a legal path to circumvent technical locks on works, the recognition that exceptions must work across borders, and the recognition of the importance of general exceptions and “fair practices, dealings or uses”.

It difficult to comprehend why this treaty generated so much opposition from publishers and patent holders, and why it took five years to achieve this result. As we celebrate and savor this moment, we should thank all of those who resisted the constant calls to lower expectations and accept an outcome far less important than what was achieved today.”

Statement of Krista Cox
Staff Attorney, KEI, Morocco cell: +212.639.61.6000,

“The Marrakesh Treaty is historic for WIPO, providing for international obligations to protect the rights of users, specifically those users who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. Rather than focusing only on the rights for right holders, WIPO has shown that it is also capable of protecting human rights. Persons who are visually impaired have fought long and hard for this treaty and as a result of their efforts, as well as countries, organizations and individuals who supported them, there is now a clear pathway to improve access to accessible format works. There has long been an obvious solution to end the “book famine,” and today this solution has been adopted. Hopefully, this is just the first milestone and that greater protections for human rights and promotion of the public interest will follow.”

Our earlier statement on the adoption of the text is here: