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US Senate to consider Marrakesh Treaty on book accessibility for the print disabled

The United States Senate is poised to pass the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, which, if passed, will make an additional 350,000 books available to the blind and print disabled.

A Senate hearing on 18 April considered the treaty, which was negotiated and adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013. The Marrakesh Treaty requires countries to enact international copyright exceptions that allow authorised entities (such as libraries) to create copies of accessible-format works and distribute them across international borders. It includes works in braille, as well as audio and digital files.

Allan Adler, from the Association of American Publishers, and Jonathan Band, of the Library Copyright Alliance, both spoke in support of the legislation at the hearing.

Band explained that the treaty ‘creates a system that allows the cross-border exchange of accessible-format copies between countries that have joined the Treaty … With digital formats such as renewable braille or audiobooks, Americans with print disabilities would be able to access foreign books within minutes of requesting them.’

American Library Association (ALA) president Jim Neal said in a statement that the treaty’s ratification by the US Senate will be a ‘turning point in global information access’. ‘The Marrakesh Treaty was a monumental accomplishment five years ago, and libraries were central to its architecture,’ he said.

Thirty-five other countries are already able to create and share accessible-format copies of books and other materials across borders under the Marrakesh Treaty, including Australia, where the treaty came into force in 2016.


Category: Library news International