India signs Treaty for the Visually Impaired

marrakesh signing
Signing of the Marrakesh treaty by the Indian delegate at WIPO. Pic courtesy G.R.Raghavender

On April 30th, 2014, in a big step towards facilitating access to published works by the visually impaired or print disabled, India signed the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (MVT)“. The treaty, which which was first adopted on 23 June 2013, was also signed by the European Union, France and Greece, bringing the total number of countries that have signed to 64, out of WIPO’s 187 members. It is quite significant that these countries have signed this treaty as this will ensure that words on the treaty are successfully translated into methods of addressing the book famine faced by the visually impaired and the print disabled.

The treaty will come into effect 3 months after 20 parties have ratified the treaty. However, so far, no country has done so. In her statement, Joint Secretary, MHRD (India), Smt Veena Ish, highlighted that India’s Copyright Amendments which came into effect on June, 2012, are already in complete harmony with the Marrakesh Treaty, thus putting India in a good position to implement the treaty. She also stated that India will be ratifying this treaty ‘very soon’. G.R. Raghavender, Registrar of Copyrights, has stated that the ratification is expected by the end of May, 2014.

As per the press release:

“The main goal of Marrakesh Treaty is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled (VIPs). It requires Contracting Parties to introduce a standard set of limitations and exceptions to copyright rules in order to permit reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in formats designed to be accessible to VIPs and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries. 

India’s ratification of this Treaty will facilitate importation of accessible format copies from the member states by the Indian authorized entities such as educational institutions, libraries and other such institutions working for the benefit of visually impaired persons. This will also facilitate translation of imported accessible format copies and export of accessible format copies in Indian languages. The Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 is in harmony with the Marrakesh Treaty. India would soon be ratifying the Treaty, which will enter into force after the deposit of 20 instruments of ratification or accession by eligible parties. “

After having spent 4 years of intense negotiations on bringing this treaty into existence, signing on to this treaty is certainly a moment of pride for India. IP-Watch has carried more on the signing here.

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