The Malta Independent 24 October 2018, Wednesday

EP agrees on Directive for copy-right material to be made available to visually impaired

Helena Grech Wednesday, 20 September 2017, 15:44 Last update: about 2 years ago

Last week, at the European Parliamentary session in Strasbourg, MEPs agreed on a directive that would lift copyright protection for print works for visually or audibly impaired individuals.

As things stand, an extra cost is added to those who are visually impaired or suffer a degree of deafness for books, print or to be converted into brail would have to pay the extra cost of having copy right license lifted.

Through this directive, the EP is attempting to "facilitate the availability and cross-border exchange of books and other print material in accessible formats from around the world", in line with the Marrakesh Treaty the EU signed in April 2014.


It requires copy-right exceptions and "related rights" to be made for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print-disabled persons.

The beneficiaries of this directive face many barriers to accessing books and other print material protected by copyright and related rights

In the communication text sent in relation with the directive, it has been reported that:

"The availability of books in formats that are accessible to print-disabled persons is estimated to be between 7 %2 and 20 %3 despite the fact that digital technology greatly facilitates accessible publishing4. Accessible formats include e.g. Braille, large print, e-books and audiobooks with special navigation, audio description and radio broadcasts.

"The objective of the proposed Directive is to increase the availability of works and other protected subject-matter, e.g. books, journals, newspapers, magazines and other writings, sheet music and other print material, including in audio form, in formats that are accessible to beneficiary persons. It will do this by ensuring that all beneficiary persons and organisations serving their needs on a non-profit basis can rely on a mandatory and harmonised exception to copyright and related rights within the Union.

"This will allow to make accessible format copies of otherwise non-accessible works and other subject matter that have already been published or made available. The proposed Directive would amend the existing Union legislative framework accordingly and ensure that the accessible format copies made in one Member State can be disseminated and accessed throughout the Union."



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