DMCA hearings: visually impaired/ereaders

Copyright Office: Jacqueline Charlesworth
Michelle Choe
Regan Smith
Cy Donnelly
Steve Ruhe
John Riley
Stacy Cheney (NTIA)
 
In and out: this took 15 minutes.  This exemption will, I predict, be granted.
 
Proposed Class 9: Literary works
distributed electronically – assistive technologies
This proposed class would allow circumvention of access
controls on lawfully made and acquired literary works distributed
electronically for purposes of accessibility for persons who are print
disabled. This exemption has been requested for literary works distributed
electronically, including e-books, digital textbooks, and PDF articles.
 
Proponents: Blake Reid, Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law
& Policy Clinic at Colorado Law
 
You’ve seen contentious exemptions and complicated issues;
this one is very basic: the right of people who are visually impaired to read
books. Basic human right, key to democratic society, uncontroversial renewal.
We’re not asking for modifications, largely unapposed including AAP
(notwithstanding reservations); circumstances have changed only marginally and
circumvention is still necessary on individual and institutional level. Use is
noninfringing, even more after HathiTrust;
still very limited availability of noncircumventing alternatives. Only material
changed circumstance is the Marrakesh Treaty, which makes this exemption
necessary for compliance.
 
C: Thank you and students for helping to make a record in
this class. It’s been very helpful to establish a need for an exemption.
 
Jonathan Band, Library Copyright Alliance: No one’s
opposing.  Marrakesh Treaty point
deserves to be reiterated: if treaty is ratified w/in the next 3 years, we need
to have the exemption in place for compliance.
 
C: Can you elaborate on intersection of exemption and
treaty?
 
Band: the treaty has a provision that countries need to have
a way for visually impaired/authorized entities to circumvent to take advantage
of any access authorized by treaty. Better to be statutory and not in need of
renewal, but this would at least enable people to take actions authorized by
Treaty.
 
Q: AAP mentioned epub and HTML5 format—could you provide
more info?
 
Reid: we’re actually very hopeful about those formats
someday being adopted on a widespread basis and provide a noncircumventing
alternative in our lifetimes. Someday I may be able to avoid seeking renewal
b/c all books come out in epub3 accessible, interoperable formats that work
with text-to-speech and ereaders and braille readers. Unfortunate reality: not
there yet, and not in next 3 years.  At
this point, adoption is inconsistent; availability of titles in those formats
and interoperability of titles purchased on particular platforms still isn’t
there. I hope to have a different answer next time.
 
Band: even if we get to a point where all new books coming
out meet that standard, you still have a legacy problem.
 
Reid: worth noting that addressing access to the archive
will be a really hard problem. Every year that goes by w/o accessible format
creates more archive that isn’t accessible. There are other challenges like
user interfaces on tablets and phones; the tech has a long way to go. Encourage
you to discuss w/relative, family member, friend who’s visually impaired—ask them
how they use a tablet to access even a noncircumvented book.  You will think it’s broken: the computerized
voice is bad; the tech has a long way to go. This exemption won’t fix
everything, but it’s a helpful band-aid for folks looking to engage in
self-help or to make books available to students or clients at an authorized
entity.

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