Tell Your US Senators to Ratify the Marrakesh Treaty Now!

AFB-DirectConnect Newsletter, Published 2/11/2016

For further information, contact:
Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
(202) 469-6833

At long last, the Obama Administration took action yesterday to send to the U.S. Senate the landmark international agreement that will, when fully implemented, dramatically address the "book famine" faced by people with vision loss or who have other so-called print disabilities around the world.

Advocates are urged to contact your U.S. Senators to ask them to ratify this historic treaty immediately. Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

The Administration transmitted the Marrakesh Treaty ratification package to the Senate along with the Beijing Treaty ratification package, an accord that provides a modern international framework for the rights of performers in motion pictures, television programs, and other audiovisual works, similar to that already in place for producers of such works, for authors, and for performers and producers of sound recordings.

Many advocates for the Marrakesh Treaty have been concerned that a joint transmittal of these two agreements for Senate consideration might needlessly complicate the politics surrounding ratification of Marrakesh inasmuch as a number of prominent public interest groups have expressed significant reservations about the Beijing Treaty. Still other advocates believe that the joint transmittal actually smooths out the road toward Marrakesh ratification in that these two unrelated agreements nevertheless complement each other by representing respectively a major public interest benefit to people with disabilities and a major benefit for commercial intellectual property interests.

Easy instructions to contact your two Senators today! Or, you may phone the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

The text of the White House transmittal statement follows:

Message to the Senate -- The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled


With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, done at Marrakesh on June 27, 2013 (Marrakesh Treaty). I also transmit, for the information of the Senate, a report of the Secretary of State with respect to the Marrakesh Treaty that includes a summary of its provisions.

This copyright treaty, concluded under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), advances the national interest of the United States in promoting the protection and enjoyment of creative works. The Marrakesh Treaty lays a foundation, in a manner consistent with existing international copyright standards, for further opening up a world of knowledge for persons with print disabilities by improving their access to published works.

The United States played a leadership role in the negotiation of the treaty, and its provisions are broadly consistent with the approach and structure of existing U.S. law. Narrow changes in U.S. law will be needed for the United States to implement certain provisions of the treaty. Proposed legislation is being submitted to both houses of the Congress in conjunction with this transmittal.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Marrakesh Treaty, and give its advice and consent to its ratification.