WIPO Marrakesh Treaty for the blind to come into force September 30, 2016, following ratification by Canada

On June 30, 2016, the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled received its 20th ratification, from Canada, and this will bring the Treaty into force September 30, 2016. The WIPO announcement was here. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry made a statement about the Marrakesh Treaty’s imminent entry into force in the video below:

KEI played a critical role in the treaty. The original draft text for the treaty was written by a WBU/KEI experts group that meet at the KEI office on July 24-25, 2008. A report of that meeting is on the web here. KEI documented much of the negotiating history here: /r2r, http://www.keionline.org/node/1089, /r2r/marrakesh, keionline.org/videos and https://www.youtube.com/user/KEIWashDC/search?query=blind.

KEI Statement on the Marrakesh treaty coming in force:

“In 2008, the World Blind Union and KEI hosted an experts meeting to consider a draft treaty on copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. After 5 years, the treaty was completed in Marrakesh, where it received a record number of signatures* on the first day it was open for signature, and now, in just three years, the treaty has enough ratifications to come into force. The negotiations and ratification efforts have all depended upon the good will and hard work by dozens if not hundreds of persons inside and outside of governments. The treaty is vastly expanding access to copyrighted works for millions of blind persons around the world, and creating global platforms for distributing accessible works. This is an example of what globalization can look like: solving problems for people. We look forward to new global instruments to expand access to knowledge and knowledge based goods, and more generally for the supply of global public goods.

The Obama Administration has asked the US Congress to ratify the treaty (See /node/2419), but Congress has yet to act, in large part due to lobbying from the Association of American Publishers (AAP, http://publishers.org). The AAP lobbied the Administration for changes in the U.S. ratification package, and now have asked the Congress for changes that they failed to obtain in the interagency review process. The U.S. ratification already represents compromises, including limitations of exports to countries that have ratified the treaty, a provision that currently excludes all of Africa and Europe. But the AAP continues to press for additional amendments to the ratification legislation.”

James Love, KEI Director.

* For an intellectual property rights treaty.

Many groups worked very hard on the treaty and its ratification. The World Blind Union (WBU) statement on the Canada ratification is available here.

What does the WIPO Marrakesh treaty do?
In a nutshell, the WIPO Marrakesh treaty does two things. First, it sets a standard for the minimum set of exceptions in copyright for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Second, the treaty allows works created under a national exception to be exported to another country, allowing institutions creating accessible works to create global systems of distribution of accessible works. The exporting of works will dramatically expand access to works for persons with disabilities everywhere, and in particular for those persons who living in resource poor setting, or who read works in a foreign language.

Below find links to videos that document the negotiating history of the treaty:

  • June 2013. Marrakesh Diplomatic Conference on Treaty for the Blind. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLw9jWaZPEpz4jSg1ZRkgSrDc0_sQ9Yfx.
  • 13 May 2013. KEI Meeting on WIPO Treaty for the Blind. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLw9jWaZPEpzafm6_61VtLb6aW-nFaINa.
  • April 2013. WIPO Treaty for the Blind Negotiations. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLw9jWaZPEpzty2Zwt16DM26bMFUspc6W.
  • November 2012. WIPO SCCR 25. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLw9jWaZPEpzoueECjm6z8vMug3Wp051H.
  • 15-25 July 2012. WIPO SCCR 24. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1D33B99A9E32BB92.
  • 8 July 2008. Ruth Okediji interviews Chris Friend (World Blind Union). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nsQbyXE5U0.
  • 8 July 2008. Ruth Okediji interviews James Love (KEI). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgSxJ90M9n8.