The Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty is a multilateral treaty concluded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013. It aims to help people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled have more timely access to a greater variety of books and other literary works in accessible formats, such as braille, audio and large print.

Its formal name is the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

The Marrakesh Treaty provides an international legal framework for copyright exceptions that allows for the reproduction, distribution and cross-border exchange of copyright works in accessible formats between countries party to the treaty.

An estimated 90 per cent of all written materials published worldwide are not published in formats accessible to individuals with a print disability. This lack of access is a barrier to participation in public life, and restricts employment, educational and recreational opportunities for an estimated 168,000 New Zealanders who have a print disability.

New Zealand to join the Marrakesh Treaty

In June 2017, the Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs and Minister for Disability Issues announced the Government’s decision to join the Marrakesh Treaty.

The proposal to join included additional changes beyond those required by the Marrakesh Treaty to further improve access to copyright works for individuals with a print disability.

More information on the proposed policy can be found in the related documents below. Audio summaries of the Cabinet paper, National Interest Analysis and Regulatory Impact Statement are also available.

Parliamentary treaty examination

In July 2017, the Commerce Committee considered the Marrakesh Treaty in light of the National Interest Analysis to form a view on whether New Zealand should accede to the Treaty.

Public submissions were not sought, given strong support from domestic stakeholders to join the Marrakesh Treaty, including by the Blind Foundation, educational institutions and copyright holders.

During the same month, the Commerce Committee reported back to the House on the Marrakesh Treaty completing the parliamentary treaty examination process. Read the report (Source: NZ Parliament) [PDF 487KB].

Why New Zealand is joining the Marrakesh Treaty

Joining the Marrakesh Treaty is expected to provide:

  • More timely access to a greater variety of accessible format works for New Zealanders with a print disability. This will have a range of positive flow-on effects, improving access to education and employment, lifting overall wellbeing and allowing more opportunities for New Zealanders with a print disability to contribute to the economy.
  • Better value for money from existing resources (including the Ministry of Education, schools, libraries and prescribed bodies) to provide accessible format works for print disabled New Zealanders. Organisations will be able to more easily exchange works across borders, reducing the need for costly local production of works that have been converted into accessible formats in other jurisdictions.
  • Improved adherence to international obligations, including obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC).


Next steps

The next step is to prepare a draft Bill, which could be released as an exposure draft Bill for public comment. The Bill would then be introduced to the House and the normal legislative process would follow, including select committee consideration of the draft Bill. Once the legislative process is complete New Zealand would be able to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty1.

The Treaty obligations and legislation will enter into force 3 months after New Zealand deposits its Instrument of Accession. Email us if you have any questions or require further information on this process.

Related documents

Audio summaries


1 Legislative amendments to section 69 of the Copyright Act 1994 and regulation 5 of the Copyright (General Matters) Regulations 1995 are required to comply with Marrakesh Treaty obligations and proposed additional changes.

Contact us

For further information (except legal advice), please contact:

Business Law Team
Commerce, Consumers and Communications Branch
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
15 Stout Street
PO Box 1473

Phone | 04-472 0030 
Fax | 04-499 1791
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