India becomes the first country to ratify the pro-blinds Marrakesh Treaty

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India has become the first country in the world to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. The agreement facilitates access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled. It enlarge the limited scope of Copyright Amendment Act of 2012 which was applicable only to materials published in India. There are 79 WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) member states to have signed this treaty but all excluding India are yet to ratify it

Marrakesh Treaty: Introduction

  • The treaty takes it name after the city of Marrakesh in Morocco where it was adopted in June 2013 to provide a wider access to copyrighted books in special format for visually impaired people.
  • This Treaty is the second international trade treaty associated with Marrakesh, the other being the Marrakesh Agreement which established the World Trade Organization in 1994.
  • Its notable that its the same place where the treaty establishing 'World Trade Organization' was inked in 1994.
  • That pact is known as the Marrakesh Agreement as against the Marrakesh Treaty - the one in question here. 

Status

  • The agreement is yet to come into force as it requires at least 20 members to submit their instruments of ratification or accession.
  • The pact is scheduled to enter into force three months after the above has been achieved.

Indian Copyright amendment Act 2012

  • India has long introduced copyright exceptions for print-disabled people through the copyright amendment Act of 2012 which is in accordance with the Marrakesh Treaty.
  • It enables 'Print Disabled' persons to convert, or have converted on their behalf, works published in India into accessible formats like braille, ebooks, audio etc.
  • However its effect was limited to materials published in India.
  • Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty has also put books published elsewhere within their access. 
  • It also now allow the import and export of such materials.

What is WIPO

  • The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the UN with headquarter in Geneva.
  • It was created in 1967 to encourage creative activity by promoting the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.
  • It currently has 187 member states.
  • The current Director-General: Francis Gurry (October 2008-present)

Conclusion

  • It would go a long way in establishing equal rights and opportunities for education and employment for the print disabled in the country.
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