EU Court Of Justice: EU Is Competent To Ratify Marrakesh Treaty 14/02/2017 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The European Union ratification of a treaty allowing an exception to copyright for the benefit of visually impaired people might be yet one step closer as the Court of Justice of the EU found today that the EU has exclusive competence to conclude it. The story of the ratification of the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled has seen a number of twists, as some countries have argued that the EU did not have full competence to ratify the treaty. The Court of Justice of the European Union concluded that the EU has exclusive competence to conclude the Marrakesh Treaty, without the participation of EU members, since the treaty may affect the directive on copyright or alter its scope. The Court was required to examine whether the treaty is connected with the EU common commercial policy, and found it is not, according to a Court press release [pdf]. The reasoning of the Court is that “First, the treaty is not intended to promote, facilitate or govern international trade in accessible format copies,” but rather aims at improving “the position of beneficiary persons by facilitating, through various means, their access to published works.” “Secondly, the cross-border exchange of accessible format copies for which the Marrakesh Treaty provides cannot be equated with international trade engaged in by ordinary operators for commercial purposes (given that the exchange in question takes place only between government institutions or non-profit organisations in accordance with the conditions specified in the treaty and that the copies imported and exported are intended for beneficiary persons alone),” the opinion said. The Court found that the treaty lays down an obligation and not merely an option, to “introduce an exception or limitation for the benefit of certain persons with disabilities.” The Court considered that “once the treaty is concluded, all the Member States will be required to introduce the exception or limitation for persons with a disability.” Since the conclusion of the Marrakesh Treaty may affect the directive on copyright or alter its scope, the Court found, it concluded “that the EU has exclusive competence and that the treaty may be concluded by the EU acting on its own, without the participation of the Member States.” Already in September, the advocate general of the Court of Justice of the EU found that the EU has exclusive competence to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty (IPW, Access to Knowledge/Education, 14 September 2016). World Blind Union Welcomes Ruling, Calls for Swift Action [Update] According to a World Blind Union press release, the European Parliament is currently working on a legislative package to implement the treaty into EU law. Ratification of the treaty is legally independent from this legislation, the release said, “but EU member states had requested the Directive and Regulation that will be voted in the European Parliament´s Legal Affairs Committee on March 22nd.” Informal discussions between the Parliament and EU member states will begin after that vote, according to the release, which further stated that “some of the issues that will be dealt with are compensation schemes, commercial availability and the official registration of authorized entities.” “The ECJ opinion re-confirms that a group of EU member states in the Council have made us needlessly lose over three years in being able to help the right to read of millions of visually-disabled persons inside and outside the EU,” it said. “We welcome the ECJ’s ruling, which should be followed by swift action to make sure that the EU and its member states ratify and implement the benefits of the treaty with no further delay. This treaty, and today’s ruling, can help millions of blind and visually impaired all over the world to have better access to books in an accessible format.” The World Blind Union blames Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom for blocking the ratification of the treaty by the EU. Image Credits: Flickr – Irish Typepad Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."EU Court Of Justice: EU Is Competent To Ratify Marrakesh Treaty" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.