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October 31, 2018

Marrakesh Treaty

President Trump signed legislation Oct. 9 to implement the ABA-supported Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works to Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. P.L. 115-261 (S. 2559) adjusts U.S. copyright law relating to the requirements of the treaty, under which contracting parties adopt copyright exceptions and limitations in their domestic copyright laws to permit reproduction of public works into accessible formats usable by individuals with a range of disabilities that interfere with the effective reading of printed material. The treaty also requires participating countries to allow eligible individuals and libraries to export and import works among those countries. The treaty, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Association, was negotiated in June 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco, and submitted to the Senate in February 2016 by President Obama, who noted that the United States played a leadership role in negotiating the treaty and its provisions are broadly consistent with the approach and structure of existing U.S. law. The treaty came into force in September 2016 when Canada became the 20th nation to ratify it, and now more than 30 countries are party to the treaty. The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on June 29. During an April 17 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the treaty, an ABA letter that was included in the hearing record stated that ratification “would help open doors to countries worldwide by allowing literature to be disseminated in accessible format with no borders.”