[Athen] FW: The Librarian of Congress re-establishes & strengthens exemptions related to making ebooks and other electronic materials accessible for people with print disabilities

Ron Stewart ron at ahead.org
Tue Nov 6 08:32:04 PST 2012

Some of you will be interested in this

The Librarian of Congress recently announced a decision of significant
import for the future of information access rights. Endorsing a favorable
recommendation by the Registrar of Copyrights concerning a petition filed
jointly by the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Council of
the Blind, the Librarian of Congress has determined that copyright
protection measures built into ebooks and other electronic materials will no
longer pose needless barriers to the materials' use by people who are blind
or who otherwise have print disabilities.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it is unlawful to
circumvent digital rights management or related technological protections
built into a work, such as an ebook, unless the Librarian of Congress has
established an exemption allowing circumvention in certain contexts. The
exemption that the Librarian of Congress has established now allows
individuals with print disabilities, as well as public and nonprofit
organizations with a primary mission to meet their information access needs,
to avoid the subst penalties that would otherwise be imposed. The
recently-adopted exemption ensures access to all:
"Literary works, distributed electronically, that are protected by
technological measures which either prevent the enabling of read-aloud
functionality or interfere with screen readers or other applications or
assistive technologies, (i) when a copy of such a work is lawfully obtained
by a blind or other person with a disability, as such a person is defined in
17 U.S.C. 121; provided, however, the rights owner is remunerated, as
appropriate, for the price of the mainstream copy of the work as made
available to the general public through customary channels; or (ii) when
such work is a nondramatic literary work, lawfully obtained and used by an
authorized entity pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 121."
This sweeping exemption represents a marked improvement over the original
exemption first granted in 2003 but which the Copyright Office had abandoned
altogether in recent years. By reinstating and expanding this exemption, it
is now clear that both individuals and organizations may freely bypass
copyright protection measures that get in the way of accessibility. By
explicitly granting authorized entities (as defined by the so-called Chafee
Amendment) to circumvent protection measures, and thereafter to widely
distribute the content in specialized formats including electronic format,
this exemption should prove very useful in the ongoing effort to achieve
equality in information access.
The Librarian of Congress also granted a narrow exemption concerning audio
visual works for the purpose of research and development in the fields of
captioning and description. This limited exemption, while falling well short
of the exemption proposed by the deafness and vision loss communities which
would have broadened dissemination of third-party-produced captioned and
described video content when rights owners fail to caption or describe their
productions, will nevertheless help to facilitate the proliferation of new
and creative means for the delivery of both captioning and description in
the DVD and online video spaces. The full notice about the DMCA exemptions
and all supporting materials can be found at:

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