Global Governance of Intellectual Property in the 21st Century

pp 107-127


International Copyright: Marrakesh and the Future of Users’ Rights Exceptions

  • Margaret Ann WilkinsonAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Western University Email author 

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The 2013 adoption by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled (‘Marrakesh’) represents a transformational moment in international copyright law. Marrakesh, a treaty devoted entirely to ensuring uniform rights for a set of users of copyrighted materials, challenges previously held notions that international copyright treaties must deal exclusively with rights holders’ rights. But does Marrakesh mark a historic shift for international copyright? This chapter demonstrates that copyright has always been linked to technological change and the real challenge since the inception of the Berne Convention has not been technological change but changes to the underlying legal structures of business. The rise of corporate business globally precipitated the inclusion of moral rights in copyright and in Berne but this has not heretofore been recognised. The current pressure on business to innovate has created further global pressures on information flow and hence on copyright. What is historic about Marrakesh is its shift to a user perspective. From this perspective, extending international copyright protection to users beyond those to whom Marrakesh applies (for instance, to libraries and archives) is demonstrated to provide benefits in the public interest to all copyright stakeholders: economic rights holders, authors, and users of information.