By Jim Fruchterman, CEO, Benetech
We stand on the threshold of ending the global book famine for people who read differently due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability that interferes with reading. A bill to ratify and implement the Marrakesh Treaty was just introduced in the United States Senate by the chairs and ranking members of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees. This bipartisan bill makes it possible for organizations such as Benetech to create accessible versions of books for all types of readers and to share them across borders through a copyright exception. As a result, millions of people worldwide will be able to read in ways that work for them.
The bill represents a consensus effort that involved all of the key stakeholders, from authors and publishers, to libraries and the organized blind, diplomats, copyright experts, and our Congress. We especially want to acknowledge the efforts of Scott LaBarre and the National Federation of the Blind for continuing to push for the Treaty’s adoption, and those of Professor Justin Hughes who led the U.S. delegation that negotiated the Treaty and played an important role catalyzing consensus.
Momentum is on our side. Europe as a block already committed to complete the ratification process this year. With the United States acting now, the Marrakesh Treaty is poised to play a pivotal role in solving the global book famine.
At Benetech, we are especially excited about this prospect. The Treaty will enable a true global library for the blind and other people who read differently. Benetech just released a Marrakesh Treaty implementation guide, which shows how our pioneering Bookshare model could solve the global book famine once and for all with relatively modest amounts of funding given the enabling policy environment created by the Marrakesh Treaty.
We’re looking forward to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 18th as we move one step closer to making sure all people around the world have access to books that work for them!