22 September 2016

Treaty of Marrakesh: (Mainly) Good Omens from Europe?

Last week, the European Commission published proposals for legislation which would implement the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. A Directive will enshrine a right to make accessible copies of books for beneficiaries, and share them within the countries of the European Union (EU). A Regulation will open the way to the global exchange of these works.

The potential benefits from EU ratification are high. While the Marrakesh Treaty is due to enter into force on 30 September, only 22 countries have passed the necessary laws to ratify it. Rapid action in Europe will more than double this figure, and make a wealth of European language works available to some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.

In a statement issued today, IFLA and EBLIDA broadly welcomed the proposals, but cautioned that for this potential to be realised, the European Parliament and Member States must take care to exclude any new barriers to access. Libraries and other ‘authorised entities’ under the Treaty (bodies empowered to make and share copies for beneficiaries) should be supported, rather than burdened with unnecessary obligations or treated like potential criminals. As IFLA highlighted two weeks ago, the spirit of Marrakesh is to maximise, not limit, access.

IFLA and EBLIDA look forward to working with MEPs and governments to get Marrakesh ratification right, in the EU and around the world. Please contact us for more information.

CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to knowledge, Copyright, Marrakesh Treaty

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