For World Braille Day 2018, we look at how exceptions in Copyright law make published works accessible to people with disabilities. This post will provide guidance for our licensees who wish to produce copies for staff and students with a disability.
The aim of copyright is to protect the intellectual property of individuals and organisations such as publishers, and ensure that they gain the recognition and royalties they deserve for their work (find out more about copyright here). The main legislation dealing with copyright in the United Kingdom is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
Our Higher Education Licence provides blanket permissions for HEIs to copy and reuse content from print and digital publications. This includes copying up to one article, chapter or 10% of the total (whichever is greater) from digital and print books, magazines, journals and websites to share with staff and students.
This works well for the most part as it allows staff and students to copy the sections from published work that they need for teaching and learning while at the same time protecting intellectual property. However, historically only a very small proportion of published work has made its way into Braille which poses a problem to visually impaired staff and students. What happens when a student with a disability such as a visual impairment needs to use a resource but only a standard version is available in the University library? Does the same 10%, chapter or article restriction apply for making a more accessible version (e.g. Braille)? This doesn’t seem fair, given that their peers without similar disabilities have access to the full piece of work.
Luckily, there are certain exceptions to copyright law that include making an “accessible copy” for a person with a disability, to allow them the same access to resources as people without a similar impairment. This exception is subject to conditions but allows a CLA licensee to make and supply an accessible copy of part or the whole of any work within licensed material to staff or students with a disability.
What is an accessible copy?
An “accessible” copy is a version of copyrighted material that gives a person with a disability improved access and allows them to enjoy a piece of work as comfortably as a person without a similar disability. The disability exception can be found in Sections 31A to 31F of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 and is reflected in Clause 9 of the CLA Higher Education Licence Terms and Conditions.
Accessible copies may include:
- making Braille, audio or large-print copies of books, newspapers or magazines for visually impaired people
- adding audio description to films or broadcasts for visually impaired people
- making subtitled films or broadcasts for deaf or hard of hearing people
- making accessible copies of books, newspapers or magazines for dyslexic people
Who can make an accessible copy?
Accessible copies for personal use can be made by a person with a disability or a by someone acting on their behalf. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, a person with a disability is defined as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment which prevents the person from enjoying a copyright work to the same degree as a person who does not have that impairment, and “disability” is to be construed accordingly.” The exception does not apply to visual impairments that can reasonably be improved by corrective lenses.
Legislation from 2014 provides specific exceptions to authorised bodies, such as education establishments and non-profit organisations, to make and supply accessible copies to staff and students with a disability without infringing copyright. This means that library staff at universities are able make accessible copies for staff and students with disabilities.
What can be copied?
Single accessible copies of part or the whole of any work within licensed material can be made if:
- The HEI has lawful possession or use of the work and continues to have such access for as long as the accessible copy is held.
- The copy includes a statement that the accessible copy was made under the CLA Licence for personal use of a person with a disability and that it may not be further copied.
- Sufficient acknowledgement to the copyright owner is attached to the accessible copy.
- No charges greater than the cost of producing and supplying the accessible copy are made.
Does there need to be a record of the accessible copy?
A record must be kept by the authorised body of any accessible copies made and to whom they have been supplied. These records must be available for inspection and be notified to the copyright owner.*
The Marrakesh Treaty
On 11th October 2018, the Marrakesh Treaty became law in the UK following an EU Directive.
Prior to this, an accessible copy was only allowed to be made if the work was not commercially available in an accessible form. This meant that if an accessible copy already existed for purchase on reasonable terms, then the exception would not apply. In this case, the HEI or academic library would have had to purchase and make the accessible copy available instead of creating a personal copy.
The implementation of the Copyright and Related Rights (Marrakesh Treaty etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 means that the UK is unable to retain the commercial availability exemption with regards to making accessible copies.
Keep an eye out for a future blog post where we will be discussing in further detail how the implementation of the Marrakesh Directive affects the CLA licences.
Accessible copies are intended to meet the needs of people with disabilities and to improve their access to published work. People without disabilities should not receive accessible copies of work, as this is not permitted by the exceptions laid out in legislation.
Do you have experience in making accessible copies? Why not share you experience in the comments below!
The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 (Sections 31a – 31F)
*PLEASE NOTE: This blog post refers to the exeptions of Copyright law NOT the CLA Higher Education Licence. Under the CLA HE Licence, HEIs are not required to report accessible copies.