Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

EU Joins Marrakesh VIP Treaty, Greatly Expanding Coverage

October 2, 2018

The European Union has joined the Marrakesh VIP Treaty in a big expansion in membership for the accord, which eases the creation and transfer across national boundaries of texts specially adapted for use by people with print disabilities. With the ratification by the 28-member European Union (EU), the Treaty will now cover 70 countries across the globe.

Francisco Martínez-Calvo, ONCE, WIPO Director General, and Barbara Martín Muñoz, EBU at the ratification ceremony (Photo: WIPO/Martin)

WIPO commends the EU for its commitment to the Marrakesh VIP Treaty and its engagement to ensuring that the multilateral system works for the widest public good.  We urge more countries to join so we can make this a universal, worldwide Treaty so visually impaired people can benefit from any accessible book that is produced in any corner of the globe.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry

Barbara Martín Muñoz, Second Vice-President of the European Blind Union (EBU), who actively lobbied for ratification of the Treaty by the EU, expressed her pleasure in being able to attend the ratification ceremony at WIPO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland:

“On behalf of the European Blind Union, we are delighted to be able to celebrate the ratification by the European Union of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty with WIPO and the Accessible Books Consortium.”

Video on Youtube - remarks by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and EBU Vice President Barbara Martín Muñoz

Francisco Martínez-Calvo of the National Organization of Spanish Blind Persons (ONCE) stated:

“this is a historic day for all of us; not only for the EU, but also for those who will benefit from all the accessible books that there are in the EU. We are eager to share all these books with anyone needing them, anywhere in the world.”
Delight all around: Francisco Martínez-Calvo, ONCE, WIPO Deputy Director General, Sylvie Forbin, WIPO Director General, and Barbara Martín Muñoz, EBU at the ratification ceremony (Photo: WIPO/Martin)

The Marrakesh VIP Treaty addresses the “book famine” of accessible titles by requiring its contracting parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the production of books in accessible formats, such as braille, e-text, audio or large print, by organizations known as authorized entities that serve people who are print disabled.  It also allows for the exchange of such accessible texts across national boundaries, all without requesting authorization from the copyright owner.

The Accessible Books Consortium

WIPO and its partners created the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) in 2014 to help implement the objectives of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty at a practical level.  ABC works in three areas: the sharing of technical skills in developing and least developed countries to produce and distribute books in accessible formats, promoting inclusive publishing, and building an international on-line catalogue and book exchange of accessible books, known as the ABC Global Book Service.

Currently, 43 authorized entities have joined this Service, which enables them to search and make requests for accessible books, all for free.  The Belgian, Dutch, French and German organizations are the latest to join from the EU.

Following the EU’s Marrakesh VIP Treaty implementation, over 270,000 titles will become available in the ABC Global Book Service for cross-border exchange, without the need to obtain authorization from the copyright owner.

The sharing of works in accessible formats through the ABC Global Book Service increases the overall number of accessible works available around the globe.  The World Blind Union estimates that less than 10% of all published works are produced in accessible formats.  The Service allows participating organizations to supplement their collections from their counterparts in other countries without charge and then distribute to persons who are print-disabled.

Find out more

Remarks from WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN in Geneva and representative of the EU and Ms. Claire Bury, Deputy Director General, EU. Watch the video on Youtube.

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