Changes to copyright law ends Australia’s ‘book famine’


Vision 2020 Australia commends the passage of the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures Bill 2017), which will give people who are blind or vision impaired significantly greater access to books and other copyright material.

During the ‘book famine’, blind or vision impaired Australians had incredibly limited access to books and printed works in accessible formats, although they were readily available in other countries.

Now, the amendments to Australia’s copyright law removes barriers to implementing the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, first signed in Australia in 2013.

Full implementation of this international treaty will ensure people with disability have access to thousands of printed copyright titles without requiring express permission from the rights holder. In Australia, it will expand the number of books available in alternative formats, including structured audio files.

Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: ‘Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty is vital to safeguarding the human rights of people who are blind or vision impaired and is a step towards meeting Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

‘It gives organisations, including our member Vision Australia, certainty about what and what is not a breach of copyright law when they are reproducing works into accessible formats. We congratulate Vision Australia on their important advocacy in this area.

‘This amendment to copyright legislation helps ensure people with disability, especially those who are blind or vision impaired, have access to quality information, improving education outcomes as well as participation in Australia’s cultural life.’


For more information: Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia

03 9656 2020, 0401 096 507 or

About Vision 2020 Australia

As the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, Vision 2020 Australia represents around 50 member organisations involved in local and global eye care, health promotion, low vision support, vision rehabilitation, eye research, professional assistance, and community support. Established in October 2000, Vision 2020 Australia is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative of the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.