May 19, 2003
Disability and the DMCA

The Library of Congress DMCA exemption hearings over the past few weeks included an exemption request for encrypted literary works not currently available on eBooks to persons with disabilities. Paul Schroeder, head of government affairs at the American Foundation for the Blind (who is blind) and Jonathan Band, American Association of Law Libraries, ALA, ARL, MLA, and the SLA were at the hearings to testify on their request.

PC World reports that copyright may have met it's match, as far as the way the DMCA restricts the 10 million blind people in the US from accessing between 60 and 90% of eBooks. Many of those are recent best sellers, but many are also works that have been in the public domain for hundreds of years, and yet their electronic versions are encrypted and therefore not available to software reading programs.

"'Easy access to e-books would be 'like water in the desert' for the blind community, says Paul Schroeder. 'We want the opportunity to do what you take for granted.'"

"'Ultimately, publishers decide whether to lock e-books', says Shafath Syed, product manager for electronic publishing at Adobe Systems. Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Reader are the two most popular programs with the text-to-speech feature. 'We provide the technology but we don't control how it's used,' Syed says. Some publishers 'think if they turn on the read aloud feature that somehow that turns it into an audiobook. It's kind of a stretch.'"

Posted by Mary Hodder at May 19, 2003 08:20 PM | TrackBack
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