The Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty is a multilateral treaty developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013. It will 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, upon completion of the Parliamentary treaty examination process and implementation of necessary legislation. 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.

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).


More information on the proposed policy can be found in the related documents below.

Next steps

The Marrakesh Treaty text, National Interest Analysis and Regulatory Impact Statement will be tabled in Parliament later this year (during the Parliamentary treaty examination process). This offers the House an opportunity to consider the proposed accession and make recommendations to the Government.

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

Public submissions are likely to be sought during the Parliamentary treaty examination process and subsequent legislative process. More information about this will be provided when available.

Once these steps are complete, New Zealand will deposit its instrument of accession with WIPO. The Marrakesh Treaty obligations and legislative amendments will enter into force three months from this date.

Related documents

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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