MANILA has acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty that secured it wider access to published materials in accessible formats for more than 3 million visually impaired Filipinos.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has signed up the country to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. This will provide visually impaired Filipinos a more open access to novels, textbooks and other printed materials limited in distribution and production by copyright law.
The IPOPHL has been pushing for the country’s accession to the Marrakesh Treaty in a bid to accelerate trade in published materials in accessible formats and institutionalizing freer production and distribution. The agency began its campaign to accede the Philippines in 2013, when it was adopted in a diplomatic conference in Morocco.
An accessible format is a copy of a work in an alternative manner or form which gives a beneficiary person access to the work, including to permit the person to have access in the same way as a person without visual impairment or other print disability. Publications in the Braille format and audio books count as accessible format copies.
“With increased access to textbooks, novels and other printed materials, the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons are given an opportunity to further their education and cultural appreciation,” IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago said.
“The spirit and intent of the Marrakesh Treaty will not only help reduce the ‘book famine’ experienced by these individuals, but will significantly empower them to seize opportunities that access to information has opened, and pave the way for a more inclusive society,” she added.
The accession permits the Philippines to export and import copyrighted works in accessible formats to and from other countries that are signatories to the agreement. There are 47 countries presently parties to the Marrakesh Treaty.
The accession also compels the government to provide some exceptions and limitations as to national copyright laws to allow the conversion of published works to formats accessible to the visually impaired. Republic Act 10372, the latest amendment to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, has adopted flexible measures for conversion of published works to accessible formats, according to the IPOPHL.
The IPOPHL also submitted to Congress a draft bill that widens copyright limitation provision in a bid to enhance access. The provision expanded the scope of copyright limitation not just to the blind and visually impaired, but also to those unable to hold or manipulate a book, to focus or move the eyes to the extent normally acceptable for reading.
“This will go a long way to enhance access to information if approved by Congress and the President,” Santiago added.