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.

The text of the treaty is here, and the signatories to date are here.

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.


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:

Responses to treaty:

26 June 2014

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