The World Blind Union’s (WBU) Right to Read campaign for ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty just concluded two days of meetings in Berlin, Germany. The attendees were mostly the regional coordinators of the campaign, and the news was good. I found the optimism exciting: it seems like we’re moving quickly to getting twenty countries to ratify the Treaty. It even seems likely that it could happen in 2015!
One year ago, on June 28, 2013, at a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreed on a historic international copyright exception for people with print disabilities, known as the Marrakesh Treaty. We certainly have plenty to celebrate on the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, but the road towards equal accessibility for all is still long and there is much that remains to be done. Access to written materials and education is not a privilege, but a basic human right—fundamental to personal, economic, and social development. I hope you join us as we advance this global right and work towards making the Marrakesh Treaty as successful as possible, so that it can empower people with print disabilities—particularly those in developing countries—live fuller lives based on equal access to knowledge.
Last month, leaders from around the world gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco, with the hope of taking a huge step forward and designing that international model. I’m excited to report: they did just that. The “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled,” which will make it possible for people who are blind, or have other print disabilities such as dyslexia to get access to the books they need no matter where they live, was adopted by the diplomatic conference and signed on the spot by over 50 countries. We have a treaty…and it’s great!
The role that Benetech, and our CEO Jim Fruchterman, have played in the adoption of the historic “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled,” has been been noted in some recent media coverage and through other media channels.
Press Release: What has been commonly referred to as the “Treaty for the Blind” was formally adopted yesterday, and signed by 51 countries today, in a Diplomatic Conference convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This historic treaty paves the way to expanding the access to books for people who are blind or otherwise print disabled and provides the necessary legal framework for organizations, like Benetech and its Bookshare initiative, to deliver those books to people across international borders.