3 December 2017

The Last Mile: IFLA Launches Work to Help All Libraries Deliver on the Marrakesh Treaty

When they signed the Marrakesh Treaty in 2013, the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation committed to removing legal barriers to access to books for people with print disabilities. They opened the way to dealing with a key cause of the book famine – the fact that barely 7% of published books were available in suitable formats.

When the Treaty entered into force last year, this commitment became a reality for those countries that had ratified the WIPO Treaty, and passed the relevant legislation and regulation. Since then, more and more governments have created the necessary exceptions to copyright to deliver the promise of the Treaty, by making and sharing – including across borders – accessible format works.

Many countries have specialised, professional libraries for people with print disabilities. They have been crucial in ensuring the access that already exists. However, the legal changes introduced following the Marrakesh Treaty will only have their full effect if as many libraries as possible can make use of its provisions. As the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sets out, people with, and without, print disabilities should be enabled to use the same services.

In order to help libraries benefit from the changes made in law, IFLA is working with librarians to create a new guide for libraries to make the most of the Marrakesh Treaty as a tool for delivering access to information. The guide has gained wide support from organisations such as the World Blind Union, the University of Toronto Scarborough, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries and will provide user-friendly answers to the questions libraries will face in making use of the Treaty’s provisions.

It will offer guidance, explanations and references in the context of potential variation in national laws, and will empower all libraries to make use of their new rights, and provide the best possible service to print disabled users. It is expected to be published in early 2018.

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

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