The Marrakesh Treaty To Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or otherwise Print Disabled, was adopted on 27 June 2013, following a week of intense debate among negotiators. The Treaty has been signed by 51 countries, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Denmark, and also many developing countries in Africa and Latin America which where there are statistically higher levels of blind and visually impaired people.
Under the terms of the Treaty, which aims to address the so-called "book famine", Contracting parties will be required to adopt national law limitations and exceptions to copyright that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in accessible formats. The Treaty also seeks to harmonise such limitations and exceptions in order to facilitate the exchange of accessible format works across borders by organisations working in this field. It is hoped that this will increase the number of works available in accessible formats.
Taking the interests of rightsholders into account, the Treaty requires that the cross-border sharing of works created based on such limitations and exceptions must be limited to certain special cases which do not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightholder.
This Treaty is the first to govern limitations and exceptions in the field of IP. It is will enter into force after it has been ratified by 20 WIPO members. Signatories have been urged to aim for ratification within months.
The WIPO press release and full text of the Treaty can be found here.