Grassley: Bill to Expand Access to Printed Works for Blind & Visually Impaired Passes Senate
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan bill to implement the Marrakesh Treaty and facilitate access to printed works for persons who are blind or have print disabilities yesterday unanimously passed the U.S. Senate. The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559) would implement the treaty to address the problem of the global “book famine” by providing, with appropriate safeguards, that copyright protection should not impede the international exchange of accessible format copies of published works. The legislation was led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and cosponsored by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), as well as senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
“Those living with vision or print disabilities should not be left in the dark when seeking accessible copies of published works. This bill is the product of a broad consensus among stakeholders within the publishing, library, and print disabilities communities, to encourage the creation and distribution of accessible format works, respect the rights of content creators and empower those with disabilities to access that content,” Grassley said.
Under the Marrakesh Treaty, parties are required to amend their national copyright laws to allow for the creation and distribution of accessible format copies of material for the exclusive use by blind and other print-disabled individuals. The treaty also requires parties to provide assurances that such distribution will be limited to use by those with such disabilities to prevent copyright infringement.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the legislation next month. Last night, the Senate also unanimously approved the treaty alongside the implementing legislation.
The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act establishes how the United States will comply with the treaty. The legislation broadens the scope of accessible works under U.S. copyright law to include published musical works in the form of text and notation. It further creates a new section in U.S. copyright law which establishes requirements regarding the export and import of accessible format copies to authorized entities or eligible persons.