The Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee has released a report on the Copyright (Marrakesh Treaty Implementation) Amendment Bill, recommending that it be passed with amendments.
The bill seeks to amend the Copyright Act 1994 to allow New Zealand to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (the Marrakesh Treaty).
The Marrakesh Treaty is a multilateral treaty negotiated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Commerce Committee of the 51st Parliament reported on its international treaty examination of the Marrakesh Treaty in July 2017.
The current section 69 of the Copyright Act provides an exception that enables bodies prescribed in the Copyright (General Matters) Regulations 1995 (known as “prescribed bodies”) to make or communicate accessible format copies of literary or dramatic works without the permission of the copyright owner.
Accessible format copies are copies that have been modified so they are accessible to persons with a print disability. However, the section 69 exception does not provide for the import or export of those copies. Accession by New Zealand to the Marrakesh Treaty will allow those works to be imported from or exported to other countries which have acceded to the treaty (Marrakesh Treaty countries).
To give effect to the Marrakesh Treaty in New Zealand law, changes are required to the Copyright Act.
The committee recommends removing the commercial availability test from the bill as introduced. It says that on balance it considers that a formal requirement for a commercial availabilty test would disadvantage print-disabled people disproportionately to the benefit gained by copyright holders.
It also notes that the Marrakesh Treaty does not cover other disabilities, such as hearing impairment, so these are not within the ambit of the bill. However, it says assistance for other disabilities could be considered as part of the wider review of the Copyright Act that is currently in progress.