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Corker Convenes Hearing to Consider Treaty to Expand Access to Books for the Blind

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement during a hearing to consider the Marrakesh Treaty, which would facilitate access to books and other published materials for the blind. The committee heard testimony from Manisha Singh, Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and representatives for the National Federation of the Blind, the Association of American Publishers, and the Library Copyright Alliance. Corker is a cosponsor of the implementing legislation for the treaty (S.2559, the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act). The Trump administration and the stakeholders represented at the hearing support U.S. ratification of the treaty and the bipartisan implementing bill.

“We want to thank everyone for the hardship that many of you went through to be here from around the country and so many in the audience who care deeply about this issue, as we do on the committee.

“We are going to consider today, as you already know, the Marrakesh Treaty.

“The World Health Organization estimates that there are 36 million blind people in the world today, with an additional 217 million who suffer from moderate to severe vision impairment.

“The Marrakesh Treaty will significantly expand the ability of blind and visually impaired people around the world to have access to books and other materials that the rest of us are able to take for granted.

“The treaty itself is based in large part on a long-standing copyright exemption in U.S. law known as the Chafee amendment.

“The Marrakesh Treaty closely follows the Chafee amendment but will require a few changes to U.S. law.

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee worked closely with the Judiciary Committee to develop the implementing legislation. 

“There is broad support among the copyright stakeholders for Senate consent to the ratification of this treaty and for enactment of S.2559, the corresponding implementing bill.

“I have a number of letters of support from these organizations that I would like to introduce into the record, without objection.

“And finally, I’d like to recognize James Brown who is in the audience today. James is the immediate past president and a current board member of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee.

“We welcome him and all of you who have come out of great interest for this treaty being enacted.

“We thank you for that.”

Click here for complete testimony and video footage from the hearing.