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WASHINGTON – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) welcomed the recent ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, which allows limited copyright exceptions for the reproduction of published works in formats accessible to the blind and visually impaired.
President Donald J. Trump signed the documents for the U.S. to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled on January 28, 2019.
“I’m proud of the USPTO’s efforts in the negotiation of the Marrakesh Treaty, and the opportunities that it creates for the blind and visually impaired community,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu. “This treaty establishes an important mechanism to both protect intellectual property rights and expand access to information and resources.”
The treaty was adopted in Marrakesh in 2013 under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It became effective on September 30, 2016, and currently has 48 countries as members. U.S. nationals will be entitled to the benefits it provides in all of those countries, once the treaty documents signed by the president are formally deposited at WIPO and the treaty enters into force for the U.S. 90 days later.
The Marrakesh Treaty is largely modeled on existing U.S. law. It is intended to reduce the global shortage of print materials in accessible formats for the many millions of persons who are blind, visually impaired, or have other print disabilities (such as physical limitations that prevent holding a book).
The treaty ensures, with appropriate safeguards for publishers, that copyright restrictions will not impede the creation and distribution of copies of published works in special formats accessible to these individuals. It also fosters the cross-border exchange of such copies internationally, allowing eligible U.S. citizens to obtain currently unavailable access to books published abroad.
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