Explaining the Marrakesh Treaty for publishers and disability people’s organizations.

As per the the World Health Organization, there are around 285 million blind and people with visual impairment in the world, of which 90 per cent live in developing countries. As per the World Blind Union, of the million books published every year in the world, less than 10 per cent are made available in accessible formats to people with visual impairment.

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 with the main goal of ensuring better access to books and other printed materials to the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled (VIPs). Here is a synopsis of what the treaty is all about.

What is Marrakesh Treaty – A summary?

The Marrakesh Treaty (formally the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities) is a treaty on copyright adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 28 June 2013 …Wikipedia

The main objective of the treaty is to help put an end to the book famine faced by people with visual and print impairment. The treaty aims to increase access to printed material such as books, magazines for people with print impairment.

More than 75 countries have signed the treaty. The ratification of 20 states was required for the treaty to enter in to effect and the treaty came in to force on 30th September 2016. India was the first country to ratify the treaty on 24th July 2014. The Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 is in harmony with the Marrakesh Treaty.

What does ratification of the treaty mean?

The country which ratify the treaty allows an “authorized entity” to convert books and printed materials into accessible format without waiting for the permission from the holder of copyright such as the author or the publisher. The country also allows import and export of the accessible formats without the permission of the copyright holder.

Who is an authorized entity?

“Authorized entity” means an entity that is authorized or recognized by the government to provide education, instructional training, adaptive reading or information access to “beneficiary” persons on a non-profit basis.  It also includes a government institution or a non-profit organization that provides the same services to beneficiary persons as one of its primary activities or institutional obligations.

Who is a beneficiary?

The treaty clarifies that any person who is not able to effectively read a printed material due to a range of disabilities is a “beneficiary”. This would include people who are blind, people with visual impairment, or print disability and people with mobility impairment who cannot hold or manipulate a book or any person such as a care taker acting on their behalf.

Which countries have ratified the treaty?

20 countries have ratified the treaty. India, El Salvador, the United Arab Emirates, Mali, Uruguay, Paraguay, Singapore, Argentina, Mexico, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Brazil, Peru, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Israel, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala and Canada.

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