GS Mains Model Question & Answer: The Marrakesh Treaty is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled. Discuss.


GS Mains Model Question & Answer: The Marrakesh Treaty is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled. Discuss.


Q. The Marrakesh Treaty is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled. Discuss. (12.5 Marks)

(General Studies Mains Paper II – Social Justice : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)

Model Answer :

The Marrakesh Treaty addresses

(I) the “book famine” by requiring its contracting parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in accessible formats - such as Braille - to VIPs and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries.

(II) It will facilitate access to published works for the millions of blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons in India. It would go a long way in establishing equal rights and opportunities for education and employment for them.

(III) The Treaty will facilitate import of accessible format copies from the member states by the Indian authorized entities such as educational institutions, libraries and other such institutions working for the benefit of visually impaired persons.

(IV) This will also facilitate translation of imported accessible format copies and export of accessible format copies in Indian languages. The Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 is in harmony with the Marrakesh Treaty.

Ratification

Fifty-one countries signed the treaty as of the close of the diplomatic conference in Marrakesh. The ratification of 20 states was required for the treaty to enter into effect; the 20th ratification was received on 30 June 2016, and the treaty will enter into force on 30 September 2016. India ratified the treaty on 24 July 2014 and was the first country to do so. As of 7 July 2014, 79 countries have signed the Treaty and 20 states have ratified it.

‘Accessible India Campaign’

The ‘Accessible India Campaign’ has provided a nationwide flagship campaign for universal access for people with disabilities. And India has begun implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty through a multi-stakeholder approach, which includes collaboration among key players such as government ministries, local champions like the DAISY Forum of India, and the private sector. This led to the launch in August of India’s largest collection of online accessible books called “Sugamya Pustakalaya”, which counts 2,00,000 volumes.

Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations organisation based in Geneva, administers the Marrakesh Treaty and leads an alliance of private and public partners known as the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), which was established in June 2014 to support the goals of the treaty.

The ABC has established a centralised electronic multilingual catalogue of accessible books produced by libraries for the blind around the world. Through the ABC Book Service, which is free, organisations serving the print-disabled can supplement their collections of accessible books from their counterparts in other countries.

The ABC Book Service can assist in preventing the same book from being produced in accessible formats by more than one library, thereby avoiding duplication. It is hoped that Sugamya Pustakalaya will soon become a member of the ABC Book Service, thereby joining an international library-to-library service managed by WIPO in Geneva. Nineteen libraries for the blind from 16 countries are already participating in this service, and I am happy to announce today that over 1,00,000 loans have now been made to visually impaired individuals around the world through the participating organisations.

ABC is continuing to establish projects in India, including by training publishers, libraries and NGOs in the production of accessible books, as well as providing funding to produce educational materials in accessible formats. Without these materials, students either cannot access their curriculum or are dependent on books being read aloud to them.

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