India signs Marrakesh Treaty

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India alongwith the European Union, France and Greece have acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty which aims to facilitate access to published works for persons 'Who Are Blind', 'Visually Impaired' or otherwise 'Print Disabled'. This takes the number of signatory countries to 64 out of a total of 187 who are WIPO members.

Important Details

  • 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. 

Vital Points

  • The agreement is yet to come into force as it requires at least 20 members to submit their instruments of ratification or accession.
  • (To date no country has ratified the treaty) 
  • The pact is scheduled to enter into force three months after the above has been achieved.

Indian Copyright amendment Act 2012

  • India introduced copyright exceptions for print-disabled people through the copyright amendment Act of 2012.
  • The Act is in accordance with the Marrakesh Treaty.
  • Ratification of this act (expected soon) may enable India to be one among those 20 countries to bring the agreement into force.
  • 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.

The Caveat

  • However its effect is limited to materials published in India.
  • Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty will also put books published elsewhere within their access. 
  • It will also 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 United Nations headquartered in Geneva (Switzerland). 
  • 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)
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