The Copyright Agency welcomes the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works to Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities, which comes into effect today.

CEO Adam Suckling says, “This is a really positive step for people with visual impairment and Australia’s early ratification of the Treaty in December 2015, shows this country’s leadership on the issue.”

“Australia has had special copyright provisions in place for many years to enable accessible format versions of books and other published works for people with disabilities. The Copyright Agency oversees the scheme for institutions, such as Vision Australia and VisAbility, and has worked with the sector to set up an online catalogue of accessible format versions.

“Copyright Agency also assists the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, with copyright permissions to facilitate exchange of accessible-format versions (e.g. Braille and DAISY) between countries.”

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry reacts to the entry into force of the “books for blind” Marrakesh Treaty, which removes barriers to accessibility of published works for hundreds of millions of people living with visual impairments.

 

As at August 2016, there were over 316,000 accessible versions in the ABC Book Service global catalogue in more than 55 languages.

Mr Suckling says, “Sharing these accessible versions across national borders creates a virtual global library in each country that could not be afforded or achieved otherwise, thereby significantly increasing the number and choice of books available to people with print disabilities.”

Copyright Agency facilitates access to Australian titles for the print disabled globally by contacting local publishers when the ABC receives a request to share accessible format file of Australian titles.

The Marrakesh treaty will further facilitate exchange between countries as well as providing a framework for other countries to develop copyright exceptions for people with print disabilities, similar to Australia’s.

“We also support the Government’s plan to amend the Copyright Act to streamline the current provisions, and look forward to working with the print disability community on practical measures to increase the range of accessible format content.”