You may have already seen, on my Facebook page, this video clip of music legend Stevie Wonder, announcing the Song of the Year winner at the 2016 Grammys:
Louis Braille himself would have LOVED that moment—and the one that followed, as Stevie invited support for universal accessibility to knowledge and information. What Stevie was referring to, more specifically, is something known as “The Marrakesh Treaty,” a piece of international legislation that has been ratified by twenty other countries, including Brazil and Canada. President Obama sent it to Congress in February of 2016. But so far … nothing.
So what exactly is The Marrakesh Treaty? Here is Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), to explain:
So—this treaty seeks “to cure book famine” and to “create a universal exception to copyright” so that libraries, schools, and other educational and social organizations can print and provide braille versions of books, pamphlets, sheet music, and other kinds of texts to blind and print-challenged children and adults around the world—without fear of copyright infringement.
I can’t think of a good reason why that isn’t a great idea. I’d love for kids in India, Brazil, or Canada to be able to read any and all of my published books and poems in braille—without any legal or financial barriers. Ratification of The Marrakesh Treaty by the U.S. would make this possible.