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New global copyright treaty addresses the book famine for people with vision impairment

1st July 2016

A new global copyright treaty will enable visually impaired people to read books in accessible formats.

QUT’s Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Matthew Rimmer said the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty on Copyright Law and Disability Rights will come into force in three months, after today’s accession by the 20th nation signatory, Canada.

Visually impaired people now have access to books and other published works that have been modified to enable them to read these works in accessible formats.

“Today is an historic day for disability rights. Not only has the NDIS come into operation in Australia, but this international agreement will address the book famine experienced by people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled,” Professor Rimmer said.

“The Marrakesh Treaty will help put an end to disability discrimination in copyright law. The agreement requires nation states to introduce a standard set of limitations and exceptions to copyright rules to allow reproduction and distribution of published works in formats that are accessible to visually impaired people.

"Stevie Wonder has said that the agreement will ‘end the information deprivation that continues to keep the visually impaired in the dark.’

 “This agreement will promote sensible copyright law reform, disability rights, human rights, education, and access to knowledge.”

Professor Rimmer said Australia had played a key role in the debate over the Marrakesh Treaty on Copyright Law and Disability Rights.

“Australian disability rights champions such as Graeme Innes, Maryanne Diamond, and Ron McCallum played a critical role in advocacy for the Marrakesh Treaty,” he said.

World Intellectual Property Organization Director-General Francis Gurry should be congratulated for his diplomatic achievement in securing the passage of the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty.

“The Coalition Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield have supported the agreement, and drafted implementing legislation,” Professor Rimmer said.

“I look forward to seeing the implementation of this agreement in the next Australian Parliament.”

For more information on the treaty go to WIPO and YouTube.

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT Media, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au.

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