The Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty aims to help people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled have access to books and other literary works in accessible formats.

About the Marrakesh Treaty

Negotiations on the development of the Marrakesh Treaty were concluded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013.

The Marrakesh Treaty(external link)

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

It provides an international legal framework for copyright exceptions that allows for the reproduction, distribution and cross-border exchange of copyright works in accessible formats – such as braille, audio and large print books – between countries party to the Treaty.

New Zealand is joining 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.

These documents have more information on the proposed policy:

Marrakesh Treaty Cabinet paper(external link)

National Interest Analysis [PDF 342KB] (external link)

Marrakesh Treaty Regulatory Impact Statement  (external link)

Read about the public consultation process that informed the proposed policy, including the discussion paper Marrakesh Treaty: Possible Accession and Options for Implementation.

Audio summaries of documents

Cabinet paper audio summary [MP3 3.4MB] (external link)

Regulatory Impact Statement audio summary [MP3 3.9MB](external link)

Why New Zealand is joining

Joining the Marrakesh Treaty is expected to provide:

  1. 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 well-being
    • allowing more opportunities for New Zealanders with a print disability to contribute to the economy
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

The scale of the problem

An estimated 90% 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.

Copyright (Marrakesh Treaty Implementation) Amendment Bill

A Bill has been prepared to amend the Copyright Act 1994 and the Copyright (General Matters) Regulations 1995 to allow New Zealand to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty.

The Bill is the Copyright (Marrakesh Treaty Implementation) Amendment Bill. We consulted on an exposure draft of this Bill and submissions closed on 18 July 2018.

The Bill has now been introduced to Parliament and referred to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee. Submissions to the Select Committee on this Bill closed on 10 February 2019. 

Further information on the Select Committee process for this Bill(external link) can be found on the Parliament website.