Centre for Internet & Society

On April 30, 2014, on Day 3 of the 27th Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, a Signing Ceremony was conducted for member states wishing to sign the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to books and other reading material for the print disabled.

Read the WIPO Signing Ceremony for Marrakesh Treaty

Opening the proceedings, the Director General of WIPO, Francis Gurry called the Marrakesh Treaty “one of the greatest achievements of this Committee in the past year.” The Hon’ble Ambassador of France in his speech following that of the Director General emphasised the importance that his government placed on this treaty. Mrs. Veena Ish, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development signed the Marrakesh Treaty for the Government of India. In her address at the Signing Ceremony, Mrs. Ish placed emphasis on India’s 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957, stating that these provisions were “in complete harmony” with the Marrakesh Treaty and that India was “well poised” to implement the same. Mrs.Ish also stated that India would be ratifying the treaty “very soon.” Most importantly perhaps, Mrs. Ish reminded the Committee that appropriate mechanisms to implement this treaty would have to be put in place; and that implementing it in its true spirit would require cooperation from all member states. The Ambassador of Greece, speaking on behalf of Greece and the European Union said that they wanted the Marrakesh Treaty to serve its original purpose of benefitting persons with print disabilities.

The European Blind Union (EBU) and the Secretary General of (and speaking on behalf of) the International Publishers’ Association (IPA) also made statements at the Signing Ceremony. EBU was of the opinion that while the signature was a “major, symbolic leap forward”, the next crucial step was to ensure its speedy ratification so that it might become effective. IPA echoed previous speakers on the point that ratification and implementation were but first steps, and that access would only be achieved as a result of “collaboration between rights organizations and rights holders.”

It will be interesting to see how these member states follow up on their signatures to the Marrakesh Treaty. The treaty will only be effective 3 months after at least 20 nations have ratified it.

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