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 [PDF, 145 KB]

National Interest Analysis [PDF, 341 KB]

Marrakesh Treaty Regulatory Impact Statement [PDF, 475 KB] 

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, 3.4 MB]

Regulatory Impact Statement audio summary [MP3, 3.9 MB]

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.

 

Marrakesh Treaty will enter into force for New Zealand on 4 January 2020

New Zealand deposited its instrument of accession to the Marrakesh Treaty with the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva on 4 October 2019.  This means that the Marrakesh Treaty will also enter into force for New Zealand on 4 January 2020.

The Copyright (Marrakesh Treaty Implementation) Amendment Act will enter into force on 4 January 2020.  It amends the Copyright Act 1994 and the Copyright (General Matters) Regulations 1995 to implement New Zealand’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty. 

The text of the Amendment Act can be found on the New Zealand Legislation website(external link).

The text of the Copyright Act 1994 can be found on the New Zeland Legislation website.(external link)

Once the Amendment Act is in force, organisations that meet the definition of “Authorised Entities” in section 69 of the Amendment Act will be able to carry out the following activities:

  1. make and distribute accessible format copies of literary and artistic works within New Zealand without seeking the permission of the owner of the copyright in these works
  2. export these copies to other Marrakesh member countries
  3. import accessible format copies made by authorised entities in other Marrakesh member countries

provided the conditions in section 69A of the Amendment Act are met, and the entity has notified MBIE of their intention to Act as an authorised entity.

An "accessible format copy" is defined in the Amendment Act as:

"a copy of a published literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, or a part of the work, in an alternative manner or form that persons who have a print disability access to the work."

The Amendment Act defines an “Authorised Entity” as an entity that is one or more of the following:

  1. an educational establishment as defined in section 2 of the Copyright Act 1994;
  2. an educational resource supplier as defined in section 2 of the Copyright Act 1994;
  3. a prescribed library within the meaning of section 50(1) of the Copyright Act 1994;
  4. a charitable entity under section 4(1) of the Charities Act 2005 which has a purpose consistent with making accessible format copies available to persons with a print disability.

Authorised entities must also keep records of the copies they have made, or received from other authorised entities or persons with print disabilities.

A person with a print disability (as defined in section 2 of the Amendment Act) or a person acting on their behalf will be able to carry out the following activities:

  1. make accessible format copies of literary and artistic works without the permission of the owner of the copyright in those works, if the copies are intended for the use of the person with a print disability;
  2. import into New Zealand an accessible format copy of a work from an Authorised Entity in another Marrakesh Treaty country without the permission of the owner of the copyright in the work; and
  3. provide the accessible format copy that was made or imported to an Authorised Entity in New Zealand.

An "accessible format copy" is defined in the Amendment Act as:

"a copy of a published literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, or a part of the work, in an alternative manner or form that persons who have a print disability access to the work."

Authorised Entities must notify MBIE

Section 69A of the Amendment Act requires Authorised Entities to notify MBIE before they begin to make accessible format copies under section 69A.  A list of organisations that have notified MBIE will be published on the MBIE website at Notifications under section 69(2) of the Copyright Act 1994.

Organisations that wish to act as authorised entities should send their notifications to: MarrakeshTreaty@mbie.govt.nz(external link)

The notification should include the full name of the organisation, together with the contact details of a person who can be contacted by MBIE if we have any queries.  These contact details will not be published.