The recent federal budget (tabled in the House of Commons 21 April, 2015), included notification that Canada will accede to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. This decision will require changes to the Copyright Act, but no text was provided in the main budget document. The announcement in the Economic Action Plan 2015 notes that approximately 1,000,000 Canadians suffer from a visual impairment and that signing on to the treaty will afford Canadians “greater access to adapted materials.” The Treaty, a product of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), was adopted in June 2013 with the aim of “improving access for the blind, visually impaired, and print disabled to published works in formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books”. A background document on the Treaty noted that more than 300 million people suffer from a visual impairment, more than 90% of them living in developing countries.
The Treaty was tabled in the House of Commons by James Moore, Minister of Industry, on 29 April, 2015. A press release from the Minister’s department provides facts and figures on the implications of the Treaty’s rights and the government’s action for Canadians.