WASHINGTON — Late Tuesday night, Sept. 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559). The implementing legislation now moves to the President’s desk for signage, and the treaty to the State Department for final preparation of the diplomatic papers allowing the U.S. to become one of the official Marrakesh countries committed to the expanded availability of accessible published works from around the world.
“We’re excited that Congress was able to move Marrakesh over the legislative finish line during its final days of business before leaving for the October recess,” said ACB president Kim Charlson. “But what is most exciting is that U.S. citizens who are blind or have other print disabilities will soon be able to have access to special format materials available in other countries in English and other languages, as well as people with all types of print disabilities around the world who will soon be able to gain access to American published works for the first time in an accessible format.”
The Marrakesh Treaty was the product of years of deliberations between the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), publishers, libraries, and disability rights advocates. The treaty was a response to the grave concerns over the cumbersome international copyright laws that make it difficult to gain access to published works in accessible formats like braille or audio format.
The act, which was brought to the House floor by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, amends U.S. copyright law necessary for full implementation of the treaty. The legislation passed with unanimous consent.
“We’ve had countless numbers of advocates who have helped make this treaty a reality in the United States,” said Eric Bridges, ACB’s executive director. “We wish to thank the U.S. Congress, particularly House Chairman Goodlatte and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker for showing true leadership by shepherding this treaty through the legislative channels.”