Australia signs the Marrakesh Treaty
24 June 2014
Joint media release
Senator the Hon George Brandis QC
Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Trade and Investment
The Hon Andrew Robb MP
Assistant Minister for Social Services
Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
The Australian Government signed in Geneva overnight the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. The treaty will give an estimated 285 million people with vision impairments around the world access to more books published in accessible formats including large print, braille or audio.
The treaty will allow exceptions to copyright law to enable organisations to produce and distribute books and other materials in formats that are accessible to people with visual impairment. The exceptions will only be used when books in accessible format are unavailable.
Attorney General George Brandis said the Treaty was a key step towards ending the 'book drought' for people with a visual impairment.
"Exceptions to copyright law will be applied to ensure that the visually impaired community can access more literature than ever before," Senator Brandis said.
The treaty maintains the integrity of copyright frameworks and aims to simplify and facilitate the cross-border exchange of accessible format literature.
"Australians are among many communities that will benefit from this treaty. Books are essential tools for education and employment, which are ultimately building blocks to development and prosperity," Ms Bishop said.
"The treaty has appropriate safeguards in place that are designed to protect the interests of authors, publishers and readers," Mr Robb said.
The Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, said the treaty will help improve accessibility for people with visual impairment.
"People with disability want to be independent, in charge and in control of their lives—this treaty will help people reach that goal," Senator Fifield said.
Australia's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, Hamish McCormick, signed the treaty at a ceremony at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva yesterday, alongside WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.
To date, the treaty has over 60 signatories including the United States and United Kingdom. It will come into effect following the ratification of 20 countries. The Federal Government will work to bring forward the treaty for ratification through the Federal Parliament.