On 1 October 2018, the EU ratified the Marrakesh Treaty. The Treaty facilitates access to books and other printed works in accessible formats.
The Marrakesh Treaty will help increase access to books for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled, more than 30 million in Europe and 250 millions all over the world. With the treaty, you can accomodate print disabled persons’ right to information without copyright legislation providing barriers. Countries which ratify the treaty must ensure that blind persons and their organisations are allowed to make books in accessible formats without the need to ask for permission from the holder of copyright (e.g. author or publisher).
It also allows that accessible format copies of printed works can be exchanged over borders. This will help to avoid the duplication of transcription efforts in different countries.
So far, some EU countries have already implemented the directive at national level, Sweden, Spain and Slovakia, for example. Others are working on that, and for those who do not do it on time, it will work as any other piece of legislation, fines should be applied.
The treaty covers government institutions and organisations recognized by the government to provide education, instructional training, adaptive reading or information access to beneficiary persons on a non-profit basis, not commercial companies.
The type of publications which can be transcribed or distributed under the terms of the Treaty are books, periodicals and other similar textual works, as well as sheet music. It doesn’t cover films. The Treaty doesn’t allow for the contents of a work to be changed (e.g. to “easy to read”) rather just for the work’s contents to be transcribed into a technically accessible format suitable for assistive technology.
Information on the website of the European Commission on the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty in EU law