EU Court decision gives visually impaired and blind people access to more published works

People who are blind or visually impaired across Europe will have greater access to published works, following a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 14 February that the European Union (EU) has the power to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.

The Treaty, which is strongly supported by the European Coalition for Vision (ECV), is designed to create copyright exceptions for the benefit of visually impaired and blind people. Under the Treaty, government institutions and certain non-profit organisations will be able to produce and distribute published works in alternative formats without the specific authorisation of the rights holder.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on implementation of the Treaty on 22 March 2017. Following the vote, the EU Parliament and EU member states will negotiate compensation schemes, commercial availability and the official registration of authorised distributors.

David Hewlett, Chair of the ECV, said: “This is a huge step forward in equality for partially sighted and blind Europeans, who will benefit from access to the same standard and range of works in alternative formats throughout the EU. We and our partners will continue to urge the executive to implement the Treaty with minimum delay.”