US Joins WIPO’s Marrakesh Treaty as 50th Member

  • The United States of America has joined WIPO’s fast-growing Marrakesh Treaty as its 50th member.
  • According to the WIPO, it has added 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 WIPO said that 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). 
  • U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed the Marrakesh Treaty ratification document, which was received by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry from Mark Cassayre, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, on February 8, 2019.
  • 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.

WIPO’s Marrakesh Treaty on published work for blind

  • Contracting parties to the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled” adopt national law provisions that permit the production of books in accessible formats, such as braille, e-text, audio or large print, by organizations known as authorized entities that serve people who are print disabled.  It also allows for the exchange of such accessible texts across national boundaries, all without requesting authorization from the copyright owner.  
  • 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.
  • India was the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled on 30th June, 2014.  
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 253 million are living with visually impairments around the world, with the majority located in lower-income countries.

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