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Singapore Amends Copyright Regime For Visually Impaired

Issued: January 17 2014

The Singapore government is signing the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. The Marrakesh Treaty has been signed by 186 members of the World Intellectual Property Organization.


The current copyright law only allows organizations to reproduce literary and dramatic works into Braille, large print, photographic and sound recorded formats. There are no provisions on cross-border exchange of these work formats. The proposed amendments will include new formats including electronic books, as well as any breakthrough formats that technological advancements offer in future.


Works of art will also be extended to cover architectural and engineering drawings, as well as other similar prescribed arts.


Last but not least, work copies may be imported from foreign organizations helping the visually impaired, and exported from similar local organizations, to be shared with beneficiaries for research or study.


“We are heartened by Singapore’s move towards enhancing copyright laws to cater to the less privileged. The proposed amendments to the Copyright Act will certainly open doors for persons with reading disabilities to enjoy greater access to copyrighted materials, both for educational and entertainment purposes,” said Michael Tan, executive director of the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped. “I am confident that this initiative will boost inclusivity for the visually handicapped and inspire them to create even more innovative works.”


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