On June 28, 2018, the United States Senate ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled and passed the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559) by unanimous consent. As an organization dedicated to achieving enduring and barrier-free access to information, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) celebrates this historic moment, which comes almost five years to the day that the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) adopted the Marrakesh Treaty.
The Marrakesh Treaty requires countries to ensure minimum copyright limitations and exceptions for the creation and distribution of accessible formats and cross-border sharing of these works. Cross-border exchange is a critical feature of the treaty, which could greatly alleviate the “book famine” problem, a situation in which the National Federation of the Blind has estimated that no more than 5 percent of published works are created in an accessible format.
“The Marrakesh Treaty promotes information access for those in developing countries as well as in the United States,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, president of the Association of Research Libraries and vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries. “Individuals with print disabilities in the United States will see significant benefits from cross-border exchange of English language materials with Australia and Canada, as well as exchange of foreign-language works from other Marrakesh Treaty parties, including nearly 50,000 accessible items from Argentina.”
Now that the Senate has acted, the House of Representatives must pass the implementing legislation and the bill would go to President Trump for signature. ARL applauds the US Senate for unanimously approving the Marrakesh Treaty and urges the House of Representatives to pass the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act.
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The American Library Association, along with the Library Copyright Alliance, applauds last night’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty and passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559) by theU.S. Senate by unanimous consent.
The Marrakesh Treaty, adopted by the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2013, requires countries to enact copyright exceptions that allow the making and distribution of accessible format copies such as braille or audiobooks, including by importation and exportation. The Treaty is largely based on the existing exception in the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 121. The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act amends the Copyright Act to ensure compliance with the Marrakesh Treaty.
“Libraries are central to the architecture of the Marrakesh Treaty,” said Jim Neal, Immediate Past-President of the American Library Association. “Libraries are among the authorized entities that will create and distribute the accessible format copies to people with print disabilities.”
“Joining the Marrakesh Treaty would allow libraries in the United States to participate in the Marrakesh system and better serve the needs of people with print disabilities at home and around the world,” said Cheryl Middleton, President of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
“We are grateful for the efforts of the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees to move the Treaty and implementing legislation through the Senate. We look forward the rapid adoption of the implementing legislation by the House of Representatives” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, President of the Association of Research Libraries and Vice President and Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries.