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European Blind Union: Implement this legislation without new barriers and ratify the Marrakesh Treaty with no further delay

4.7.2017

We are happy that this legislation opens the door for swift EU ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. Thanks to this legislation cross-border exchange of copyrighted books will be legal without the permission of rights holders for non-profit uses to serve blind and visually-impaired persons.

At the same time we deeply regret that this agreement allows EU member states to impose a “compensatory remuneration” to be paid to rights holders, as we consider this in contradiction with the right-to-read objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty.

Blind people have to deal with books in an inaccessible format; especially, when we look at educational material, where inaccessibility is steadily increasing. Columnized layouts, graphs, pictures, animated balloons and all other means to attract optic attention, until now, cannot be made accessible to blind persons without extensive knowledge, phantasy, and experience. There is no technical tool available to replace these indispensable human resources. It is the non-profit companies with these special services for blind consumers in the respective country that provide these skills.

Article 21 of the UNCRPD states that accessible information must be made available without additional cost. So any price or fee that amounts to a higher level than the regular price plus an appropriate surcharge with respect to the production of the accessible format will violate article 21 of the UNCRPD.

If people accept, that basically it should be the publishers who take responsibility for the accessibility of their products, then there is no room for anything but the regular price they can enforce on the market.

In the transposition of these EU laws into EU member state legislation we shall oppose this unfair application of payment schemes. They are falsely called "compensation schemes" because there is no economic loss to be compensated and governments never have shown any damage done to publishers by accessible formatted works.

The next crucial step is for the European Parliament and the Council to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and to deposit this ratification in Geneva at the World Intellectual Property Organization.  We call upon this to be done with no further delay.