For Immediate Release
Anthony Stephens, Director of Advocacy & Governmental Affairs
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2018 — The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act was signed into law by President Trump on Tuesday, October 10th. The treaty now moves to the U.S. State Department to prepare the official diplomatic documents for delivery to Geneva where it will be deposited at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters, joining the list of other ratifying countries committed to expanding access to published works in accessible format for people who are blind and visually impaired, along with those who are print-disabled.
“We’re excited that the United States has cleared the way to help in ending the global accessible book famine,” said ACB President Kim Charlson. “It’s been a long journey, and we’re thankful for the hard work and determination that the publishing industry, lawmakers, and all advocates have demonstrated over the years to get us to this point.”
The President signed the treaty legislation after coming to his desk with unanimous support from both the Senate and House of Representatives. Treaties typically just require passage by the Senate; however, Congress had to pass additional legislation to assure that U.S. copyright law was aligned with the treaty’s language and other participating nations’ laws. The new treaty removes copyright constraints when accessing and sharing special format works in braille, audio, and other accessible formats internationally.
“ACB recognizes that nations should not stand in the way of literacy, and the Marrakesh Treaty guarantees that people with disabilities can share equally in that right,” said ACB executive director Eric Bridges. “ACB is humbled to have been at the table since this landmark treaty’s inception, and we look forward to working with our counterparts abroad to help expand the availability of published works into the hands of people who are blind all over the world.”
The treaty was a response to the grave concerns over the cumbersome international copyright laws that have made it difficult to gain access to published works in accessible formats like braille or audio. Agreed upon in Marrakesh, Morocco, on June 27, 2013, the U.S. will now join 71 other nations, including the 28 countries of the European Union, who ratified earlier this month.
The American Council of the Blind is a national grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Together, we make a bright future. Learn more by visiting www.acb.org.