July 19, 2019

Today, U.S. Officially Joins Marrakesh Treaty as 50th Member

Several statements and tweets below.

From the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):

The United States of America has joined WIPO’s fast-growing Marrakesh Treaty as its 50th member, adding a major global publishing center to the Treaty that promotes the increased worldwide availability of texts specially adapted for use by persons with visual or print impairments.

The U.S. is home to the largest number of English-language texts in accessible formats, such as Braille, for use by people living with print or visual disabilities. The Treaty eases the creation and international transfer of accessible texts among its 50 contracting parties, which cover 78 countries (including the 28-member European Union).

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When the Treaty takes effect in the U.S. in three months, some 550,000 accessible texts will become immediately available to visually impaired persons living in Marrakesh Treaty-adherent countries, according to figures from the U.S.-based National Federation for the Blind.

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The World Health Organization estimates that 253 million are living with visually impairments around the world, with the majority located in lower-income countries.

The Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013, at a diplomatic conference organized by WIPO and hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco in Marrakesh. The treaty entered into force on September 30, 2016, three months after it gained the necessary 20 ratifications or accessions by WIPO members.

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WIPO and its partners created the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) in 2014 to help implement the Marrakesh Treaty at a practical level. Its activities include the ABC Global Book Service, with 320,000 titles currently available for cross-border exchange under the Treaty’s terms. This number will eventually grow to 370,000 after the Treaty enters into force in the U.S., when titles can be added from the U.S. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a long-standing member of ABC.

Forty-seven authorized entities have joined the ABC Global Book Service, which contains accessible books in 76 languages. The majority of the Book Service’s titles are available in high-quality, human-narrated audiobooks.

Read the Complete WIPO Statement

From the U.S. Copyright Office/Library of Congress:

Today [Feb. 8], the United States officially joined the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled (“Marrakesh Treaty”) by depositing its instrument of ratification with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This means that the United States’ obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty enter into force in ninety days, on May 8, 2019.

Karyn A. Temple, Acting Register of Copyrights, stated, “The United States’ formal membership in the Marrakesh Treaty marks a major achievement for our country and a significant positive step forward for the millions of persons who are blind and visually impaired throughout the world. The United States will now join our fellow nations in promoting greater accessibility to print materials around the globe.”

The Marrakesh Treaty requires its contracting member nations to make it easier for those with print disabilities to access printed works in accessible formats such as Braille and digital audio files. It also establishes rules for the international exchange of accessible format copies. The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted at a diplomatic conference in June 2013 and the treaty entered into force in September 2016. The United States is the 50th WIPO member state to deposit its instrument.

Marrakesh Treaty Documents, FAQ (via U.S. Copyright Office)

Video of Signing Ceremony

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and Mark Cassayre, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, explain the significance of the USA’s ratification of WIPO’s Marrakesh Treaty. The United States of America joined the Marrakesh Treaty as its 50th member on February 9, 2018, adding a major global publishing center to the Treaty that promotes the increased worldwide availability of texts specially adapted for use by persons with visual or print impairments.

UPDATE: More Statements

United States Becomes 50th Member State to Join Historic Copyright Treaty (via IMLS)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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