Marrakesh Treaty approved by the European Parliament

An agreement has been secured with the European Parliament on implementing mandatory copyright exception legislation for people with print disabilities. According to the terms outlined in the Marrakesh Treaty, this legislation will allow disability organisations to make copies of works in accessible formats, and to share them both inside and outside the EU with those countries which are party to the Treaty.

At present only 5% of books are available in accessible formats, which has resulted in a “book famine” effecting 30 million people in the European Union.

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) at a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh in June 2013. It has since been ratified in 30 countries. The treaty took some time to be approved by the European Parliament due to fears expressed by publishers and legal challenges presented by member states, including France.

Commissioner Stylianidis of the European Commission concluded “the Commission will support member states in the transposition of these laws and we will monitor correct application including compensation schemes and their clear limits (only possible if there is more than minimal harm to rights holders) as established in the legislation to assure they are legal and they are not barriers for visually impaired persons”.