2009 Docket to Inform the United States Government Views at WIPO regarding a Possible Treaty for Facilitating Access for the Blind or Other Persons with Disabilities

The United States is a member state of the World Intellectual Property Organization and an active member of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). One of the topics of work at the SCCR involves limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights, including limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons. During 2009, the SCCR discussed a treaty proposal introduced by the delegations of Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay, which would mandate certain exceptions and other practices regarding the cross-border import, export and qualified distribution of copyrighted works for the blind, visually impaired, and other reading disabled persons, without permission of the rights holders. The treaty proposal was based on text that was prepared under the auspices of the World Blind Union.

In order to allow further opportunity for interested persons to provide their views, the Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) issued a Notice of Inquiry in March 2009, seeking public comment on the following issues:

  1. How the treaty proposal would interact with existing U.S. law
  2. How the treaty proposal would interact with existing international obligations of the U.S.
  3. The possible benefits of or concerns about the treaty proposal, including with regard to the objectives of the treaty proposal, how those objectives could lead to improved access for the blind and visually impaired, and any concerns about the implementation of the proposed treaty provisions in the U.S. or abroad
  4. Other possible courses of action that would facilitate access by blind, visually impaired, and other reading disabled persons

  5. A public hearing was held on May 18, 2009, in Washington, D.C. Statements made by the U.S. Government delegation at the SCCR meetings in May 2009 and December 2009 appear at right, on this page. Discussions at WIPO continued through mid-2013.

    On June 27, 2013, the Member States of WIPO adopted the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. See more on the International Page.