Joint Statement in Support of Rapid Ratification

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) continues to advocate for U.S. ratification of the World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty, commonly referred to as the Marrakesh Treaty. Recently, ACB has signed onto a joint statement of stakeholders calling for ratification, and ACB continues to engage congressional staff and committees toward passage of this important treaty.
 
Although advances in technology in recent years have given people with visual impairments many more options for accessing printed materials in accessible formats, the World Blind Union estimates that we still have access to only about five percent of the books published worldwide each year. In parts of the world that are less developed, less than one percent of published works are accessible to people with print-reading disabilities. This situation persists in spite of provisions in copyright law in countries such as the U.S. that allow producers of accessible format books to publish and distribute such accessible format works to people with print-reading disabilities.
 
The Marrakesh Treaty received broad support from not only blindness organizations, but publishers and copyright law experts throughout the U.S. and around the world. It was signed by the United States on October 2, 2013, and the White House transmitted the Ratification Package to the U.S. Senate this past February, 2016. To date, 16 countries have ratified the treaty.
 
The Marrakesh Treaty is important to Americans who are visually impaired because it calls upon those nations who sign it to provide in their copyright law a limitation or exception that allows:

  • Reproduction of works, by an authorized entity, for the purpose of converting them into accessible format copies exclusively for the use of beneficiary persons.
  • Distribution of accessible format copies exclusively to beneficiary persons.
  • Export of accessible format copies of works, in order to make them available to a beneficiary person in another country.
  • Import of accessible format copies of works produced in another country, in order to make them available domestically.

ACB urges members of the U.S. Senate to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. We call on the Senate to adopt a ratification package that is narrow, protects the spirit of the treaty, and does not attempt to use this treaty as a vehicle for addressing extraneous issues of copyright law that could undermine the desired result: increased access to printed materials for people with print-reading disabilities.
 
To view the joint statement on ratification, visit: www.acb.org/marrakesh. For questions regarding the Marrakesh Treaty, contact Anthony Stephens, ACB's Director of Advocacy & Governmental Affairs: astephens@acb.org, 202-467-5081. You may download the .pdf file of the Joint Statement in Support of Rapid Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty
below.