The Marrakesh VIP Treaty, Accessibility, and (E)U
In an effort to combat the global ‘book famine’ for individuals with visual impairments, in that over 90% of the printed works of the work were unavailable to them in an accessible format, the international community developed and ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities (Marrakesh VIP Treaty). The Treaty's purpose was to provide new and improved methods of accessibility while not infringing the protections afforded by copyright on the printed works. As digitalisation and improvements to text to speech narration advanced in line with other technologies, arguably, it became easier and more cost-effective to adapt the material for those with visual impairments. However, in doing so, the adaptation ran afoul of copyright protection. The Marrakesh VIP Treaty thus facilitates this adaption while not infringing or preventing future commercial exploration of the work in question.
This paper seeks to outline the context for the introduction, negotiation, and ratification of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty within the broader spirit of the CRPRD from the perspective of the European Union (EU). It also analyses the EU’s ability to include human rights-related goals as part of its external relations policy and the question of competence to act in this regard in relation to the Marrakesh VIP Treaty. Finally, it examines each trade-based agreement following the ratification of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty by the EU to assess whether they are aligned to the spirit of the Treaty. In doing so, the innovative and protective aspects are contrasted with requirements to protect and promote various human rights, such as the rights of the person with disabilities and where the Marrakesh VIP Treaty shapes the rights to education, knowledge, culture, and the impact such inclusion has in addressing the global ‘book famine’.
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