Course:LIBR559A/World International Property Organization (2013).

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World International Property Organization. (2013). Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. Retrieved from


This document is a treaty that has been agreed to by many nations, including Canada, on the reproduction of copyrighted materials for use by visually impaired users. It is important to libraries and librarians as it allows them to create accessible copies of the libraries materials for visually impaired and disabled patrons. The preamble makes it clear that there must be a balance between the importance of copyright protection and the right of visually impaired people to be educated, be able to access information and conduct research (2).

This treaty is based on the “principles of non-discrimination, equal opportunity, accessibility and full and effective participation and inclusion in society, proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2).” The treaty requires member nations to make exceptions to copyright for visually impaired people or the print disabled if an accessible version does not exist (4-5). Amazingly, the treaty allows someone in one nation to provide a copy of an accessible copy of a copyrighted material to an organization or a disabled person in another nation (5). In fact, the members of the treaty are also instructed to encourage and assist cross-border exchanges (7). However, all reproductions are to be limited in number so as to not work against the rightholder’s rights (8).

There are a few drawbacks to the treaty. The first is that it is written in a legal manner that librarians might not be able to comprehend if they have not been trained in law. Secondly, the treaty was initially available only to the 189 member nations unless other international organizations, such as the EU signed onto it (10). Unfortunately, most nations have not ratified the agreement. Among the missing members are the UK, United States and the members of the EU (World International Property Organization, 2017). This is especially problematic as a major focus of the treaty is the allowance of visually impaired individuals in developing nations to access information (2, 9). The non-participation of those nations removes a large number of important resources that could be covered by the treaty.

Additional Reference World International Property Organization. (2017). WIPO-Administered Treaties. Retrieved June 12, 2017, from

Page Author: Manfred Nissley