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WIPO continues push for Marrakesh Treaty ratification

Peter Leung, Washington DC

Even countries that already have laws providing for copyright exceptions for persons with visual disabilities may have to amend their laws before ratifying or acceding to the treaty

Nine out of 82 signatories have ratified or acceded to the treaty, one of the few multilateral IP treaties at a time when bilateral agreements are increasingly popular. The treaty will come into effect once 20 countries ratify or accede to it.

The treaty requires the party countries to provide exceptions to allow copyright-protected works to be made accessible for persons with visual impairments in formats such as braille, audio and large print. The treaty also has provisions allowing accessible works to be made available across borders.

One of the tasks that countries must accomplish to ratify is to amend their laws to provide for these exceptions. According to Candra Darusman, deputy director of WIPO's Singapore office, one of the challenges is that even for countries that already have laws providing for copyright exceptions for accessible works, many still need to revise their laws to account for concepts in the treaties. For example, he notes that some countries already have provisions that provide exceptions, but their laws may use the term “blind” rather than the broader term “persons with print disabilities”. Similarly, some countries need to amend their laws to define what an "authorised entity" is as the term is used in the treaty.

Several jurisdictions are working on the legislative revisions needed to ratify the treaty. Last year, the EU Council announced that it would like to see ratification of the treaty soon. In May, the Council adopted a decision asking the EU Commission to submit the legislative proposals required to ratify the treaty.

Mexico was the most recent country to ratify the treaty, doing so on July 29.

"The Marrakesh Treaty is quite an achievement," Darusman said. "It is the first multilateral treaty providing for exceptions for persons with print disabilities, so it is especially important that it gets ratified."


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