Rami Olwan

All About CyberLaw, Copyright and Developing Countries

UAE Accession to Visually Impaired Treaty

One of the main reasons that inhibit blind and visually impaired persons (VIPs) from accessing works including books, journals and movies is national copyright laws that differ from one country to another allowing in some countries texts to be translated, but prohibiting its distribution and sharing through any communication medium including the Internet.

For many developing countries, there are currently no limitations and exceptions in the national copyright laws for VIPs and persons with print disability. This means that their use or adaptation of the work each time constitutes copyright infringement if they have not obtained permission from the copyright owner. As a result, copyright law has emerged as one of the forceful means of regulating ideas and knowledge-based products in the digital age, thus prohibiting the free flow of information rather than facilitating knowledge distribution in these countries.

To help VIPs, Access to Knowledge (A2K) and not to be a marginalized group, On 28 June 2013, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, a landmark new treaty formerly known as “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled”. The treaty aims to boosts access to published works for millions of people with sensory disability by offering new exceptions in copyright law and permitting copyrighted works to be shared across international borders. More than 50 countries, a majority of which are developing countries, signed the treaty.

On 15 October 2014, the UAE Government deposited its instrument of accession to WIPO in relation to the VIP Treaty of 2013. This is a major step in the right direction for the UAE and it is hoped that article 22 of the UAE Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 Regarding Copyright and Related Rights (as amended by UAE Federal Law No. 32 of 2006) is amended to allow VIPs and persons with print disability to develop and be self- determined citizens.

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