US Signs WIPO Marrakesh Treaty On Copyright Exceptions For The Blind

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The United States has signed the World Intellectual Property Organization Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

According to the WIPO website, the United States and Zimbabwe signed on 2 October, which appears to bring the number to 57. So far none have ratified it.

US Ambassador Betty King signs Marrakesh Treaty. WIPO DG Francis Gurry looks on, left (Copyright: WIPO)

US Ambassador Betty King signs Marrakesh Treaty. WIPO DG Francis Gurry looks on, left (Copyright: WIPO)

Despite signing, the United States might be a long way from ratifying the June 2013 treaty, as noted by Jonathan Band of policybandwidth in Washington, DC, who first announced the US signing.

“Of course, signing the treaty is different from ratifying it,” he said on a listserv. “Signing the treaty was a decision within the control of the Obama Administration. Ratification requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, and the Senate Republicans have refused to ratify over 30 treaties signed by a variety of administrations over the past four decades, if not longer.”

Experts discussed prospects for US ratification at an event held last month at American University law school (IPW, WIPO, 20 September 2013). At that event, a US official said it would be signed “very soon”.

The list of signers of the Marrakesh Treaty is available here.

The Marrakesh Treaty is available here.

Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported


  1. says

    When asked to comment on the likelihood of US ratification of The WIPO Marrakesh Treaty, Mr. Jim Fruchterman, CEO of and one of the drafters of the original World Blind Union (WBU) text that was introduced at WIPO SCCR18 as the basis of that treaty, had these comments on a BBC Radio interview 02JULY2013 after saying that “We certainly believe so” that the treaty will be ratified:

    ” … I actually believe the opposition is not coming from the publishing industry, interestingly enough. I think it’s coming more from owners of other kinds of intellectual property, especially the movie industry and the patent holders. And I think the real question that they’ll be facing is how big a set of jerks do they want to look like if they actually come out publicly against the treaty as negotiated.

    ” … I think that the political cost and the social cost of actively objecting to the treaty it’s negotiating should be high for any business or set of lobbyists that want to object to it.”

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