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Print disabled get legal boost and an end to ‘book famine’
Pic: Shutterstock

16 Oct 2018 / human rights Print

Print disabled get legal boost in end to ‘book famine’

The newly-minted Marrakesh Treaty will significantly improve access to books for visually impaired persons, by exempting Braille editions from copyright laws.

The European Union (Marrakesh Treaty Regulations) 2018 came into effect in Ireland on 11 October.

The regulations allow visually impaired people and their advocate organisations to make an accessible format copy of printed works for their exclusive use, and smooths the transmission of these documents across the EU Member Stateswho signed the regulation into law. 

The regulations will help end the book famine and create a more equitable society “so that everyone can equally enjoy and partake in the joy of reading books of fact or fiction,” said Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys.

The regulations incorporate the EU Directive (EU) 2017/1564 and allow for copyright-protected works (such as books, e-books, journals, newspapers and magazines) to be made available in accessible formats such as Braille, large print, e-books or audiobook, without requiring the permission of the rights holder. 

Cross-border exchange

The separate EU Regulation (2017/1563) provides for the cross-border exchange of accessible format copies between EU Member States and third countries that are parties to the Marrakesh Treaty.

Regulation 2017/1563 has direct effect across the EU and does not require transposition to Irish national legislation.

On 1 October, the EU ratified the Marrakesh Treaty in a ceremony at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva.

The ceremony was presided over by Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger of Austria, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU, and Claire Bury (Deputy Director-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technologies at the European Commission).

50 signatories

The Marrakesh Treaty is an international agreement under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, adopted on 28 June 2013 at Marrakesh and signed by over 50 countries, including Ireland. 

In September 2016, the European Commission launched a series of legislative proposals as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy aimed at modernising copyright. 

This included two legislative proposals, a directive (EU 2017/1564) and a regulation (EU 2017/1563), jointly intended to enable implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty into EU law.

The European Union (Marrakesh Treaty) Regulations 2018 and accompanying guidance notes, have been published on the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s website at www.dbei.gov.ie.

Separately, the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018

is going through the Houses of the Oireachtas and is expected to be finalised before Christmas.

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