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ARL Celebrates US House Passage of Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, Urges Administration to Complete Implementation

image CC-BY-NC-ND by Dominique Archambault

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) celebrates today’s passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act by the US House of Representatives. Earlier this year, the US Senate unanimously ratified the Marrakesh Treaty and passed the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, S. 2559. As an organization dedicated to achieving enduring and barrier-free access to information, ARL welcomes this next step toward ratification and implementation.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled requires countries to ensure minimum copyright limitations and exceptions for the creation and distribution of accessible formats of works and cross-border sharing of these works. Cross-border exchange is a critical feature of the treaty, which could greatly alleviate the “book famine,” a situation in which the National Federation of the Blind has estimated that no more than 5 percent of published works are created in an accessible format.

The treaty currently has 41 contracting parties and entered into force on September 30, 2016, with Canada’s ratification. Countries from every region of the world, with varying levels of development, have ratified the treaty. Other countries are also moving toward ratification and the European Union is expected to complete its process for ratification later this year.

“The Marrakesh Treaty provides concrete benefits, particularly by allowing cross-border exchange of accessible formats for the benefit of people with print disabilities,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, president of ARL and vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries. “With implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty, countries can send and receive works in accessible formats from other countries that share a common language. Individuals in the United States who do not speak English as a first language or who are learning a new language will also benefit from the ability to import accessible formats in foreign languages. Libraries, as authorized entities, will play a vital role in facilitating these cross-border exchanges.”

Now that the Senate has ratified the treaty and both chambers of Congress have passed the implementing legislation, President Trump must sign the act into law and the US State Department will need to deposit the instrument of ratification with the World Intellectual Property Organization. ARL urges the Administration to swiftly complete these next steps.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org

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