Marrakesh Treaty enters into force September to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books

30 June 2016

On 30 June, Canada became the 20th country to ratify the Marrakesh treaty meaning that this historical treaty will come into force on 30 September.

Over 95% of the books published in the world are never published in a way that is accessible to blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled persons. Like everyone else, persons with disabilities need to have access to information to be able to study, work, read literature, participate in cultural life and in society in general. The lack of information in accessible formats for all persons with the disabilities has put them at a huge disadvantage.

The ‘Marrakesh Treaty to Improve Access to information for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled’ focuses on copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works. This way, access to information for print disabled people including people with dyslexia, will be facilitated.

To enter into force , the Marrakesh Treaty needed to receive a minimum number of 20 signatories. This was achieved on 30 June 2016, when Canada became the 20th country to ratify the Treaty.

Access to information is a human right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which has been ratified by the EU and 27 out of 28 Member States. However, the EU has not yet ratified the Marrakesh Treaty as there is an on going discussion between the EU and the Member States on whose competence this matter is. The CRPD Committee recently reviewed the EU’s work on the rights of persons with disabilities. Among others, in its recommendations the CRPD Committee called on the EU ‘to take all appropriate measures to ratify and implement the Marrakesh Treaty as soon as possible.

During its Annual General Assembly in May 2015, EDF and its members unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission, the EU Council and all governments throughout the EU to ratify without any further delay the Marrakesh treaty.

Find the full text of EDF’s resolution here

EDF Secretary, Rodolfo Cattani, stated: "The Marrakech Treaty is the only international treaty on copyright targeted to and led by consumers, i.e. by people who need to access printed material in the accessible formats they require. The treaty is legally binding for the countries that have ratified it. It will improve access to information and culture and thereby promote education, employment, social inclusion and participation of millions of persons with visual disabilities and other print disabled people. The Marrakech Treaty is not a traditional copyright treaty, it is a historic human right instrument perfectly in line with articles 21 and 30 of the CRPD. We expect that the EU and all its member states ratify the Treaty without further delay and that they will take steps towards its swift and full implementation”.

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