Australia Signs Treaty for Visually Impaired
On 23 June, Australia signed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty for the visually impaired.
Australia’s signing of the treaty was announced in a joint media release from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Julie Bishop), Attorney General (George Brandis), Minister for Trade and Investment (Andrew Robb) and Assistant Minister for Social Services (Mitch Fifield).
The treaty, know as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled was adopted at a Diplomatic Conference held in Marrakesh in June 2013.
A useful guide to the treaty has been published by Mihály Ficsor, a former Assistant Director General at WIPO.
The treaty is not yet in force: it comes into force three months after 20 ratifications or accessions.
Implementation of treaties in Australia is subject to Parliamentary review, through the Joint Standing Committees on Treaties.
COPYRIGHT PROVISIONS FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED IN AUSTRALIA
Australia has world-leading copyright provisions to assist the visually impaired. Copyright Agency is appointed by the Australian Government to manage the statutory licence that allows the making of accessible-format material. The licence allows for payment, but Copyright Agency’s board has decided not to seek payment for copies made under the licence.
Copyright Agency has also established a Masters Catalogue for institutions assisting the visually impaired to share information about accessible-format master copies.
The main aspect of the treaty that will require consideration for Australia is implementation of mechanisms for cross-border supply of format-accessible copies.
More on the treaty:
- Miracle In Marrakesh: “Historic” Treaty For Visually Impaired Agreed (IP Watch, 26/6/13)
- What the Marrakesh treaty means for blind people (WIPO magazine, August 2013)
- Four More WIPO Members Sign Marrakesh Treaty For Visually Impaired (IP Watch, 30/4/14)
Responses to treaty:
- International Publishers Association: Publishers Welcome WIPO Marrakesh Treaty and Closing Statement by the International Publishers Association (27/6/13)
- International Authors Forum: The Agreed Treaty: A Balance
- World Blind Union: WBU Statement on Marrakesh Treaty
- Vision Australia: Landmark treaty to end book famine
26 June 2014