Press Release - "Marrakesh Treaty must continue forster cooperation" say European publishers

European publishers welcome the agreement reached between the institutions on the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty. European publishers are already working with ‘Authorised Entities’ (AE) to maximise their respective services. It is crucial that this cooperation is maintained and even promoted. This is why publishers supported the amendments of the Parliament and the work of the Council to align on the wording of the Marrakesh treaty itself. More cooperation means reduced costs for all and better services to persons with print disabilities.
European publishers are committed to increase access to the books they publish. They are actively involved in the work of the European Digital Reading Lab, the Publishing Business Group of the W3C and the Daisy Consortium to develop standards that include accessibility features in the e-books they publish. European publishers are also dialoguing with the European institutions and other relevant stakeholders in the framework of the European Accessibility Act, on requirements to make e-books accessible to the larger possible audience. They know that the increase of the percentage of books published in accessible format at the moment of publication is a crucial element to reduce the book famine. They are also aware that born accessible publications are not enough and thus the exception provided by the new exception is essential as well.
We understand that the compromise text now describes precisely the scope of the exception; authorising everything is necessary to make works accessible, covering also the case that a person with a particular disability is not able to read a version that is accessible for others. This is already the basis for the collaboration between publishers and AEs: serving the needs of everybody for every book and, as the International Federation of Libraries Association said “If a suitable accessible format is readily available on the market, then libraries (but this is true for all the AEs) will turn to this in any case to avoid duplication of effort and to save public funds.
We agree that AEs should have no additional burden when they serve beneficiaries and we will continue to work with them to increase the information at their disposal when a book is accessible to their constituencies. This includes working on standard metadata formats able to communicate the single elements that form the accessibility of an e-book, since the objective, as stated in the Marrakech Treaty, is that everybody should be “able to read to the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability”.

As for the compensation which could be due to rights holders (authors and publishers), it exists in a number of countries and this is the reason why the final text reflects that situation. Notably, this should continue to foster the dialogue between the rights holders and the AE when the work is both accessible and commercially available.

We trust that the Directive implementing the Marrakesh Treaty coupled with the European Accessibility Act will provide for a happy ending, where publishers and AEs work together so that every time it is feasible works are published and distributed in accessible format and AEs are informed; in all other cases publishers will collaborate with AEs, in particular to reduce cost and time for the production of accessible format copies.

A consortium of organisations from publishers and reading impaired people communities has just submitted to the Commission a proposal for a new project (FIT4PUB), coordinated by the FEP Italian member, the AIE, to develop technologies that may dramatically reduce cost for both publishers to incorporate accessibility features in their mainstream production process and AEs to produce accessible format copies.

Good legislation, stakeholders’ collaboration and tailored investment are what we need to build effective policy in this field.

FEP represents 28 national Publishers Associations from the European Union and the European Economic Area. The turnover of book publishers in 2016 reached 22, 5 billion euro. The more than 29.000 European publishing houses have published in 2015 some 575.000 new titles, a testimony of their role promoting culture and knowledge. FEP is the voice of European books and journals publishers in Europe.

FIT4PUB - Fully Inclusive Tools for Publishing is the new project proposal submitted in the latest ICT20-2017 call of the Horizon 2020 programme. FIT4PUB aims at providing software tools and knowledge needed to enable all kind of publishers and content providers to create born accessible digital publications in the mainstream production process and authorised entities to reduce cost when transforming non-accessible files. The consortium put together a unique expertise and long-term commitment in the field and can count on the participation of publishers, organisations serving print impaired persons - both blind and visual impaired and dyslexic people - and research centres to create an ecosystem to achieve equal opportunities for all in accessing any kind of publication.

For more information, contact Anne Bergman-Tahon abergman@fep-fee.eu 0032477336576