In 2013, the members of the World Intellectual Property Organization adopted the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The Treaty requires all contracting countries to provide exceptions in their copyright laws to allow copyright-protected works to be reproduced in formats accessible to the visually impaired.

Although U.S. copyright law already has an exception for the visually impaired—Section 121 of the Copyright Act—it needs to be amended to be fully compliant with the terms of Marrakesh Treaty. In support of this admirable goal, the Authors Guild has been working with the Association of American Publishers and various other organizations representing the visually impaired, libraries, and rights holders, together with the U.S. government, to craft legislation so the Treaty can be ratified in the U.S.

The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, introduced on March 15 before the Senate with bipartisan support, amends the Copyright Act to comply with the Treaty. The Authors Guild thanks Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for introducing this important piece of legislation which will increase the availability of books in formats accessible to persons with visual impairments in the United States and other treaty member countries, without disregarding the rights of authors and publishers.

Below is the Authors Guild’s joint press release with the American Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, American Library Association, Association of American Publishers, Association of College and Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Benetech, National Federation of the Blind, National Music Publishers Association, and Perkins School for the Blind.