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MEPs back plans to adapt more books for blind people

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MEPs back plans to adapt more books for blind people

Braille book - Photo by Karl-Heinz Wellmann

(BRUSSELS) - MEPs on the EU Parliament's legal affairs committee gave their backing Thursday to new draft rules to make more books available in formats designed for blind and visually impaired people.

The draft legislation, which brings EU law into line with the Marrakesh Treaty, provides for copyright exceptions for formats such as audiobooks and Braille.

Currently, people with visual impairments face many barriers in accessing print material. In the EU, the share of books available to them in accessible formats such as Braille, large print, adapted e-books and audiobooks, is estimated at between 7% and 20%.

Two legislative resolutions aim to increase the number of books, journals, newspapers, magazines and sheet music available to people who are blind, visually impaired or have other problems reading print. The draft legislation would bring the EU's law into line with its international commitments under the Marrakesh Treaty, signed by the EU in 2014.

The European Blind Union estimates that there are upwards of 30 million blind and partially sighted persons in Europe, and the World Blind Union puts the worldwide figure at 285 million.

The draft rules provide for mandatory copyright exceptions to allow the production of accessible format copies of books and other print material. MEPs agreed that EU Member States should not be allowed to impose any additional requirements on these copyright exceptions, such as compensation schemes for publishers or commercial availability checks prior to the exchange of accessible format books.

The new rules would also ensure cross-border circulation of accessible format books inside the EU and with non-EU countries that have signed the Marrakesh Treaty.

The MEPs' committee has now approved a mandate to start informal talks with the Council on the two legislative resolutions with a view to reaching a first-reading agreement.

Further information, European Parliament

Procedure file: Permitted uses of works protected by copyright for the benefit of persons who are blind

Procedure file: Cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies

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