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Campaigners Urge Further Changes to Copyright Law

The British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) and RNIB are calling for changes to the copyright law to allow disabled people to copy all legally owned digital books or multimedia into more accessible formats.

The calls come as part of the organisation’s response to consultation on proposed changes to copyright law from the UK Intellectual Property Office in a report by Professor Ian Hargreaves – chair of digital economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies – which would allow wider and easier access to a range of materials for disabled people.

The independent report, entitled ‘Digital Opportunity: A review of Intellectual Property and Growth’ (available here as a PDF: http://bit.ly/e7jPxQ ), proposes changes which would ease restrictions on individuals copying material that they own, such as music, films and documents that an individual has purchased, allowing copying to more accessible formats for personal use. For example, a PDF file could be converted to an audio file, or a document could be scanned in order to increase the font size.

However, BATA – which campaigns for the rights of AT users – is calling for stronger freedoms allowing individuals to copy any material that they have legal access to, and not just material that they own. This would include library books and information on public websites.

In its own consultation response, the RNIB said it too supports a copyright exception to allow all private copying, and “breaking” of digital rights management (DRM) systems that prevent this.

Overall however, the charity – like BATA – welcomed the proposed changes. “These changes alone will not end the book famine, or problems with access to magazines, news and multimedia materials”, the RNIB said. “However, they will contribute towards that goal, and with just 7% of published works being accessible at present, all reasonable measures that can alleviate the book famine should be taken.”

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