India's Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty Celebrated; Accessible Books Consortium Launched
On Day 1 of the 28th Session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (“SCCR”), the WIPO organized an event to mark India’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, 2013 (“Marrakesh Treaty”), and to launch the Accessible Books Consortium (“ABC”).
India Becomes the First Country to Ratify the Marrakesh Treaty
Francis Gurry, Director General, WIPO said that the Marrakesh Treaty received 79 signatures in the twelve month period that the treaty was open for signatures. He further said that India’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty one year from its conclusion was a “WIPO record of sorts” and a “great example from a major country” of the importance attached to the Marrakesh Treaty.
Dilip Sinha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in Geneva handed over India’s Instrument of Accession to the Marrakesh Treaty to Francis Gurry. Ambassador Sinha in his speech stressed on the importance of the Marrakesh Treaty to India and said that it helped that India had its amendments to its Copyright Act, 1957 in place, incorporating the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty.
Maryanne Diamond, the Immediate Past President of the World Blind Union (“WBU”) congratulated India on its ratification. Calling it a country who showed “huge leadership” in negotiations of the Marrakesh Treaty, Ms. Diamond said that this ratification was extremely significant, with India being home to a large number of blind and print disabled people and a part of the Global South. Ms. Diamond urged other nations to follow India’s example and make it a priority to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.
Jens Bammel, Secretary General, International Publishers Association (“IPA”) also congratulated India on its ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty and called on other member states to ratify it.
Accessible Books Consortium Launched
At the launch of the ABC, Mr. Gurry said that the Marrakesh Treaty was only the means to an end, where the end was books in the hands of print disabled and visually impaired persons across the world. “To make it operational,” said Mr. Gurry, “we need to have operational activities.” He said that the ABC was an operational activity which would “breathe life” into and “make operational” the legal framework provided by the Marrakesh Treaty.
What Does it Do?
Mr. Gurry said that the ABC aimed at achieving three things- first, capacity building; second, international book exchange and third, international book exchange.
- Capacity Building- Mr. Gurry said that the ABC seeks to provide training on accessible book production and distribution. He thanked the Republic of Korea which has committed to providing financial assistance for training in respect of production of books in accessible formats.
- International Book Exchange- Mr. Gurry said that this activity was an IT supported facility, namely, the TIGAR Service which has its origins in India. This would allow participating institutions to perform international searches of databases to find out if accessible formats of books are available.
- Inclusive Publishing- Mr. Gurry said that at the end of the day, “books should be born accessible” and technology was creating the “promise of the realization of this aspiration.” Mr. Gurry said that the ABC would promote accessible publishing and to this end, had drawn up a charter of accessible publishing- Accessible Publishing Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers. Elsevier is the first publisher to have signed this charter.
India, WBU and IPA delighted
Praising the ABC, Ambassador Sinha called it an indicator of what multi-stakeholder cooperation needs to do. He said that the ABC would assist organizations such as the DAISY Forum of India in achieving the goal of access to books in accessible formats. Congratulating the WIPO for its efforts on this front, Ambassador Sinha said that this would help nations like India realize their goal of achieving the purposes of the Marrakesh Treaty. Ms. Diamond, representing the WBU congratulated Elsevier on signing the charter. Jens Bammel, on behalf of the IPA expressed concern for making books available in accessible formats for non English speakers. The ABC, he said, was a project initiated to “genuinely complement” the Marrakesh Treaty, and would create a global catalogue of accessible works, whether provided by libraries or by publishers. Expressing his delight that the ABC was being supported equally by all stakeholders, Mr. Bammel reached out to member states to support this initiative politically.