June 28, 2013


IMLS Press Contact
Mamie Bittner, mbittner@imls.gov

photo of US delegation signing the treatyMarrakesh, Morocco – The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference for Visually Impaired Persons concluded today in Marrakesh, Morocco with a signing ceremony for the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) joined a United States interagency delegation in negotiating this historic multilateral treaty that will oblige all nations to establish copyright exceptions for people with print disabilities. Equally importantly, it will increase the international exchange of accessible-format copies of published works. This will be of particular interest to Americans seeking access to published works in a variety of languages. (Photo: The US delegation signs the treaty, by Jim Fruchterman.)

IMLS is charged by law with expanding access to library and information services for individuals with disabilities. It supports libraries, including the state library administrative agencies and state libraries for the blind and physically handicapped, to achieve this key mission.

The following is a statement from IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth:

“The Institute of Museum and Library Services is pleased to welcome the historic agreement reached in Marrakesh. The treaty will greatly increase the capacity of libraries and other institutions serving individuals with print disabilities to provide access to published materials from throughout the world. Access to information is essential to a democratic society and critical in enabling all individuals to fully engage in a global knowledge-based economy. We applaud the efforts of the WIPO member states to craft an agreement within the international copyright system that meets the informational, educational, and cultural needs of individuals with print disabilities."

Since 2009, IMLS General Counsel Nancy E. Weiss has participated, along with officials from other federal agencies, in developing the treaty text as part of the United States delegation to the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights.

More than 600 negotiators from WIPO’s 186 member states worked to finalize the treaty text during the diplomatic conference held from June 18-28, 2013 in Marrakesh.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.