Dr Ficsor on the Marrakesh Treaty

Dr Mihály Ficsor, one of the leading experts on international copyright and the former Deputy Director General of WIPO, has published a comprehensive commentary on the Marrakesh Treaty for access to works for the visually impaired. His synopsis of the paper is as follows:

The Introduction to the Commentary points out that the limitations and exceptions foreseen in the Treaty – as also proved by the WIPO-Unesco Model Provisions adopted in 1982 (under the chairmanship of the author of the Commentary ) – may also be applied (and, in many countries, are applied) on the basis of the existing copyright treaties in accordance with the three-step test. The Treaty is historical, but not because it would be the first treaty to make the application of such limitations and exceptions possible. It is historical from the viewpoint of persons with visually impairment since it expresses full solidarity of the international community by offering an adequate legal and organizational framework for international cooperation to ensure more efficient availability of accessible format copies. It is also historical in a broader sense since it – together with the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP) adopted a year earlier – seems to have put an end to a quite troubled period (more or less the last decade) in the international copyright relations by contributing to a well-balanced international regulation of copyright and, at the same time, rejecting a badly informed campaign against certain indispensable elements of the existing copyright norms (in particular the three-step test and TPM protection). The Introduction also discusses the reasons for which the Marrakesh Treaty has rightly be characterized as exceptional and unique and for which it cannot be regarded as a model for any treaties on other limitations and exceptions (not needed because those limitations and exceptions may be duly applied on the basis of the existing international norms). Namely, that it is a special-format treaty, a treaty on special-format copies for the visually impaired. The Commentary contains detailed paragraph-by-paragraph comments and an Annex added to it offering a thorough analysis of the key issues of the three-step test (of which a summary is included in the comment to Article 11 of the Treaty on the test). 

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