United States of America Joins WIPO’s Marrakesh Treaty as 50th Member

February 9th, 2019 by Brant Adams


United States of America Joins WIPO’s Marrakesh Treaty
as 50th Member

The World
Intellectual Property Organization
 issued a statement on February
8, 2019 from its headquarters in Geneva announcing that the United States
has become the 50th member of the Marrakesh
. Because the European Union comprises 28 states, the number of
countries now adhering to the treaty comes to 78.

The official notification ratification document from
Washington signed by Donald Trump has been accepted by World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO) Director Francis Gurry, with Mark Cassayre,
the Chargé d’Affaires for the American mission to the United Nations’
installation in Geneva.

And with that, as many as 550,000 accessible texts
have become immediately available to visually impaired people in the countries
that have signed the treaty. A full list of those countries is here.

The treaty is designed to facilitate access to
published works for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print
disabled by creating a universal copyright exception that will allow
authorized parties to “travel” accessible formats to appropriate consumers.

“The Marrakesh Treaty is WIPO’s fastest-growing treaty
and we hope it becomes a universal one soon, so visually impaired people in
every corner of the globe can more easily benefit from learning and culture no
matter where it is created," said Mr. Gurry. “The US already houses the
world’s largest repository of accessible English-language material,
representing a major increase in the global resource base for visually
impaired people living in countries that have joined the Marrakesh Treaty.”

“I’m proud of American leadership and the USPTO’s
efforts in the negotiation of the Marrakesh Treaty, and the opportunities that
our ratification creates for the blind and visually impaired community in the
United States and around the world,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of
Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office (USPTO). “This treaty establishes an important mechanism to
both protect intellectual property rights and expand access to information and

“We pause to celebrate this moment as the United
States formally joins the Marrakesh Treaty," said Maria A. Pallante,
President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers. “Having worked so
tirelessly with so many talented partners to realize a better legal framework
for accessible formats, publishers now salute the many readers throughout the
world who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise living with print
disabilities. Congratulations and happy reading!"

“The United States’ formal membership in the Marrakesh
Treaty marks a major achievement for our country and a significant positive
step forward for the millions of persons who are blind and visually impaired
throughout the world,” said Karyn A. Temple, Acting Register of Copyrights and
Director of the United States Copyright Office. “The United States will now
join our fellow nations in promoting greater accessibility to print materials
around the globe.”

Information about the Marrakesh Treaty is available at
the WIPO site here, and the documents, including a summary, are
available here. They include versions in Braille, full audio, and
Daisy format.