[Athen] Am I protected in the new online eBook world?

Susan Kelmer Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu
Wed Sep 25 08:13:45 PDT 2019

I have read this white paper.

As a published author, I am appalled at the lack of respect for the author and publisher that this paper espouses. Does an author not deserve to be paid for their work? Does the publisher, who published the work, not deserve to be paid for their work?

We should do what we can to be sure we are honoring copyright and the author, as well as getting the student what they need. I have yet, in my 20 years of experience, not been able to find a way to accommodate a student with the alternate format they need, despite roadblocks. But one thing I still insist on is that the student have purchased or own some form of the book, whether it be a hard copy, electronic copy, etc., new or used. It is about being fair, using a few morals and ethics to do the right thing.

If a student wants a free electronic copy of a text, they can go out and find it with a google search and a torrent download, I’m sure. But we should NOT be in the business of thumbing our noses at authors. It sends a terrible message.

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager
Disability Services
University of Colorado Boulder

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Angelina Zaytsev
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 8:56 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Am I protected in the new online eBook world?


I want to direct your attention to the recent white paper, The Law and Accessible Texts<https://secure-web.cisco.com/11XUlVBkIlo3HVw6UMcVUWwC3nKc_zQbiQZlePcaj0703U1WoNj88A0GTv7FYaegQ-LFJN9KtfoYHImhf1eKSHjU878Vc1lh0G-9SvJn6Ve08jiIh_MSqHK51wYkKVN7lA44ywKEcCGLg3_Zj40SPA5wEVFIoeBMDx-w-3_HkM02-tNMXNiHA0p1t88aSJdyu68rBNwFJUCoWMhonrNr94PJtLStLgd6j2BjCrOgARFIfnw403P7ahOuEoeNKOvMJT5qctNOPFAkbpvUbLqD_q1lGSs9AD22f_sqH6xNHKTonexeJtNPRmAywS7vUvv5lnYbWkVY0zT017F4-Pj441aaoPfxKXaAIGyCxLMI7jTNR_uL9Z_sP1I_ZmHLOM0HX-mQy46AGwDYvKJXhZfDCfV6tylr8jHZDHdRc00pdAm-2XnqH8zQy-pe6V27zBTkZIVR9PvKFv4rRqBjvxTD32g/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.arl.org%2Fresources%2Fthe-law-and-accessible-texts-reconciling-civil-rights-and-copyrights%2F>, produced earlier this year by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the University of Virginia (UVA) Library. This white paper is part of the FRAME grant, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

As part of this paper, the authors investigated the various aspects of the remediation workflow, and they debunked the myth that a student has to purchase a print copy in order for the Disability Services Officer (DSO) to make a remediated copy.

“Neither the requestor nor the fulfilling institution needs to purchase an inaccessible copy in connection with each (or any) request for an accessible one. Section 121 makes no mention of a purchase. Producing multiple accessible copies from a single source fits perfectly well within the text of Section 121 and its application by Judge Baer in HathiTrust. The fair use analysis in HathiTrust is premised on the importance of accessibility as an objective, and failure of the market to meet it; again, it makes no mention of additional purchases by either users or fulfilling institutions.

"Indeed, as the LTA report points out,16 to the extent that the emergence of a market solution would be desirable, the best incentive for that emergence is the expectation of new revenue to be derived from serving the disabled. Requiring the purchase of an inaccessible copy removes that incentive.” (pp.17-18)

Earlier in the paper (pp. 6-7), the authors consider why DSOs have required users to purchase a copy.

"For years, disability services offices (DSOs—the office or department at an IHE tasked with supporting the needs of users with disabilities) and others involved in fulfilling the requirements of disability rights laws have viewed copyright (the body of law that governs copying, adaptation, distribution, and certain other uses of works of creative expression) as an impediment to their work. They have been uncertain about what is permitted, and have constrained their activities in
support of civil rights out of fear of violating copyrights. The tension has dramatically curtailed their efficiency.

"This fear is due primarily to a misunderstanding of voluntary arrangements DSOs have with some of the biggest publishers. These arrangements place strict constraints on DSOs’ use and reuse of accessible texts, based on the publishers’ view of their commercial interests, not on the law. Some publishers have also included misleading warnings on accessible texts they provide to DSOs." (emphasis my own)

Overall, the authors encourage DSOs to take full advantage of the protections offered by US Copyright Law for providing accessible copies to users with disabilities.


Angelina Zaytsev
User Services Librarian
HathiTrust <http://www.hathitrust.org/>
University of Michigan Library
Pronouns: she/her/hers

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 10:05 AM Susan Kelmer <Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu<mailto:Susan.Kelmer at colorado.edu>> wrote:

You failed to provide the student with format for reasons that are probably dubious. Yes, the student probably has a case if they want to sue in this case.

I provide alt format to students regardless of what format of book they bought – hard copy (new or used), electronic format (Kindle, other ebook), or that they have access through the LMS or another portal they paid for. I ask for a receipt, or to see their book, or to show me that they can log into the portal and access the materials. For books that are hard to figure out, if I have the author, title, and edition, that’s usually enough. When the student logs in to show me that they have access to the materials, I can usually find more information there, and then I hop on out to Google or Amazon and get the information so I can get the files from the right place. Almost all of these books that end up in portals or on LMS’s are the big publishers – Pearson, Cengage, McGraw Hill etc. Once I know what book is actually “behind the curtain” of the portal, it is easy enough to order the files through ATN. This type of access for students is becoming more common. Sometimes these portals are provided through the LMS and there is nothing the student needs to purchase at all. The reality is, they have access, and if they need alt format, then you need to provide it, in whatever format is appropriate for them.

My question would be did the student do their due diligence in getting you the information you needed to get the files? Just because it isn’t on the syllabus doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to obtain it – i.e., log into the portal with the student and take a look! The information you need should be right there.

Susan Kelmer
Alternate Format Production Program Manager
Disability Services
University of Colorado Boulder

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Deborah Armstrong
Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 12:25 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Am I protected in the new online eBook world?

All my students now are really nice people, but I have a lot of new, very naive students and I’m a bit concerned that I’m not fully protected if someone makes a complaint.

Consider this hypothetical situation: the student doesn’t have a printed textbook. There’s an option to buy it, but student doesn’t do that because it’s too expensive.

Student may purchase the cheaper eBook online, but in any case, I never receive a receipt. I really don’t know if the considerably cheaper eBook version was purchased or not since it’s integrated in to the LMS. In many situations, it’s not that easy to tease a receipt out of the LMS anyway, and in other situations, the student didn’t know how or did not purchase the textbook.

Student fails the course and says it’s because we never provided alternate media.

Student did request this book over and over. It’s not on Bookshare; it’s not on learning ally and it’s not in the local public library. It isn’t on the ATN either, or at least I didn’t have enough book information to be sure it wasn’t.

Example: Professor syllabus says “Psychology” 8th or 9th edition”. No ISBN, no full title unless that’s it and no author or publisher. And I found the syllabus by pestering the prof over and over myself!

So I didn’t provide alternate media. Am I protected as long as I was clear with the student that I needed either a physical book to scan or a receipt with full book information?


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