After many years of hard work, we are one step closer to seeing the Marrakesh Treaty implemented in the United States. The Marrakesh Treaty is an international copyright treaty that was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization and signed by the U.S. in October 2013. It provides a copyright exception - the first ever in an international treaty - for libraries as authorized entities to make accessible copies of articles and books for people with print disabilities and distribute those copies across borders. If the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act is passed the United States will be able to provide a wealth of new accessible content to Americans with print disabilities, including those who speak English as a second language. In many ways, this is a civil rights law. It affirms that access to information is a universal right for all people regardless of circumstance.More information on the Marrakesh Treaty is available from WIPO and the World Blind Union. I like the World Blind Union's conclusion:
In plain language, this is a Treaty that should start to remedy the book famine. It provides a crucial legal framework for adoption of national copyright exceptions in countries that lack them. It creates an international import/export regime for the exchange of accessible books across borders. It is necessary for ending the book famine, but it is not sufficient. Countries need to sign, ratify and implement its provisions. Non-profit organizations, libraries, educational institutions and government need to take advantage of these provisions to actually deliver the accessible books people with disabilities need for education, employment and full social inclusion.You can follow the progress of S. 2559, which would amend Title 17 (U.S. Copyright Law) on the Congress.gov web site. The Association of Research Libraries is keeping track of which countries have ratified the treaty. While the U.S. is not among the first, let's hope we also are not among the last to do so.
If you are interested in seeing the Marrakesh Treaty approved in the U.S. Senate, consider contacting your senator. It will then need to be ratified by our President.