Copyright: WIPO. Photo: Violaine Martin. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

IFLA representatives were proud to attend the 64rd General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO GA/64) 6 – 14 July 2023. The meeting marked the 10th anniversary of the Marrakesh Treaty, which facilitates the international sharing of books in accessible formats. The Treaty is vital in making available material for people around the world with visual impairments and other print disabilities. The treaty was adopted on 27 June 2013.

On 12 July the General Assembly held a celebratory panel for the Marrakesh Treaty’s anniversary. Video and transcript are available here. As WIPO’s news story on the event describes, the Treaty supports the adoption of national laws which “permit the reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in accessible formats through limitations and exceptions to the rights of copyright holders.” The panel featured discussion from beneficiaries and implementers of the Treaty.

Sara Benson, the Chair of IFLA’s Copyright and Other Legal Matters (CLM) committee, delivered a statement commending WIPO for adopting the treaty during 11 July discussions of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR). She stated the treaty marked

“a very important occasion for libraries, which play a vital and material role in providing access to books and other materials for the visually disabled and other persons with disabilities—not to mention all library patrons… [though] not all of the signatory nations have enacted enabling legislation.  We look forward to further work towards realizing the treaty’s potential in supporting necessary and legally guaranteed rights to user access.”

The statement further voiced support for WIPO’s 2023 Toolkit on Preservation. The Toolkit makes recommendations for implementing national-level copyright limitations and exceptions to support the physical and digital preservation of cultural heritage items, books, and other material in the face of natural and human-made disasters such as climate change, fire, and war.

To further mark 10 years of the Marrakesh Treaty, IFLA published a blog post on implementation progress and challenges detailing insights from the US Library of Congress. IFLA’s Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities (LPD) section hosted a Marrakesh panel discussion, with insights from speakers involved with implementation from around the world.

WIPO maintains a list of countries that have ratified and ascended to the Treaty where you can see what phase your country is in the adoption process. Contact IFLA’s LPD section or for more information on getting involved.