Although Armenia has not yet implemented the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities into national copyright law, libraries can nonetheless begin to use the treaty. A new Information Note from EIFL explains why libraries in Armenia can begin to use the treaty through the legal doctrine of direct effect.
Treaties in Armenia automatically apply
The Republic of Armenia acceded to the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities in 2022. Although the Armenian Law on Copyright and Related Rights (2006) has not been amended to domesticate the treaty, libraries in Armenia nonetheless can make and supply accessible format copies to people with print disabilities (including across borders) without having to ask permission from rightsholders. This is because under the Armenian Constitution, international treaties ratified by the Republic have direct effect, meaning that the treaty automatically becomes law without the need for implementing legislation.
Marrakesh provides detailed guidance for Armenian libraries
In addition, the Marrakesh Treaty is sufficiently detailed to provide libraries and other authorized entities with guidance on permitted activities. For example,
- Article 2 contains definitions for the works within the scope of the Treaty, the accessible format copies that can be made and distributed, and the entities authorized by the Treaty to make accessible format copies (which includes libraries that provide services to people with print disabilities).
- Article 3 defines the universe of people with print disabilities who can receive the accessible format copies made by the authorized entities.
- Article 4 provides that authorized entities must be permitted to make accessible format copies and supply them to people with print disabilities.
- Article 5 allows the export of accessible format copies, and Article 6 allows the import of accessible format copies.
EIFL recommends an amendment to Armenian Copyright Law (2006)
While the law does not need to be changed, EIFL recommends that it is by way of a specific amendment to the copyright act. The amendment would help to raise awareness of the Marrakesh Treaty in Armenia, enable librarians and people with print disabilities to read the permitted activities in the Armenian language, provide additional comfort to libraries and other authorizd entities when making and supplying accessible format copies and if necessary, provide guidance to the Armenian courts. (EIFL is pleased that the draft copyright law under development includes Marrakesh provisions).
The legal doctrine of direct effect
When a country joins an international treaty, one of two legal systems may apply.
Countries that require implementing legislation are known as dualist system countries. Dualist countries, that make up the majority, require the provisions of the treaty to be incorporated into domestic law (copyright law, in the case of the Marrakesh Treaty).
Countries that do not require implementing legislation to give effect to the treaty are known as monist system countries. In these countries, treaties are said to be ‘self-executing’ or to have ‘direct effect’, and the provisions of the treaty automatically become law. In addition, monist countries sometimes choose to domesticate for transparency and increased legal certainty for citizens. For example, monist system countries, Moldova and Kenya (see Kenyan constitution and 2022 Copyright Act) both amended their copyright laws to incorporate Marrakesh Treaty provisions. Armenia plans to do so as well. In the meantime, as a monist system country, libraries in Armenia can already start to use the Marrakesh Treaty.
Do you know of other monist countries that have joined the Marrakesh Treaty? We would love to know! Please contact Teresa Hackett, EIFL Copyright and Libraries Programme Manager - teresa.hackett [@] eifl.net.
EIFL is grateful to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Ministry of Economy of Armenia for confirming the direct effect of international treaties in Armenia, and to EIFL’s Copyright Coordinator, Hasmik Galstyan, translating the EIFL Information Note into Armenian.