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Legislative amendment facilitating print-disabled persons' access to literary works enters into force

Ministry of Education and Culture 8.11.2018 13.34
Press release
Legislative amendment facilitating print-disabled persons' access to literary works enters into force

The Copyright Act will be amended to facilitate access to literary works for persons who are visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled. The amendments will also ensure that accessible format copies of published works, made for the exclusive use of print-disabled persons, will be available in all countries within the European Economic Area. The legislative amendments are based on the EU Directive on certain permitted uses of certain works protected by copyright for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled (the 'VIP Directive').

Under the amended Act, authorised entities providing services to visually impaired or print-disabled persons will be allowed to make accessible format copies of works or other subject matter to which they have lawful access. The amendment will have the biggest impact on the possibility to make audio books. The Directive also enables free movement of accessible format copies within the European Economic Area, which means that print-disabled persons will also be able to obtain works from other EEA countries.

Print-disabled persons should be able to access literary works and images and other subject matter incorporated in them to substantially the same degree as persons without any such impairment or disability. In addition to audio books, accessible formats include Braille, large print and adapted e-books.

Authors continue to have the right to remuneration, if the accessible format copy will permanently remain in the possession of a print-disabled person.

When passing the bill, Parliament required in its resolution that the Government take action to further amend the Act to make it more technology-neutral and better correspond to the actual usage of works. The Government must closely monitor and assess the impacts of the Act on beneficiary persons and rightholders and submit a report on this to the Education and Culture Committee in spring 2021.

The VIP Directive and Regulation are part of the copyright reform related to the Digital Single Market.

The Government submitted the bill amending the Copyright Act for approval on Thursday 8 November. The President of the Republic is to approve the Act on Friday, and it will enter into force on 12 November 2018.

Background

The VIP Directive is based on the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, drawn up by the World Intellectual Property Organization. The European Union ratified the Treaty in the beginning of October. The Treaty will enter into force in the EU Member States on 1 January 2019.

According to the World Blind Union, the number of visually impaired or partially sighted persons is around 253 million worldwide and around 30 million in Europe.

Inquiries: Senior Ministerial Adviser Anna Vuopala, tel. +358 2953 30331

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