[AI] copy right amendments may adversely print disabled

Asudani, Rajesh rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in
Thu Apr 22 07:04:09 EDT 2010

times of india

CHENNAI: When G Udayaraj, a final year student, wants to read a book, he goes to the computer lab, dons a headset and listens to one of the 30,000 books that Presidency College's English department has converted into digital format.

Udayaraj has very low vision, which means everything from class notes to novels are easier to 'read' on the computer.

But a proposed amendment to copyright act might just change the way print- disabled people like Udayaraj 'read'. The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010, introduced in RS on Monday, says there will be copyright exemption only for converting books into special formats such as Braille and sign language [Section 52 (1) (zb)

"A number of print disabled people don't use Braille," says Rahul Cherian, a copyright lawyer with Inclusive Planet, an organisation working with the disabled. "They scan and convert printed material into electronic formats and use screen reading software like NVDA or JAWS to listen to it," he says.

"This amendment will mean they can no longer convert books into accessible formats on their own." The term print-disabled covers the blind, people with low vision, autism, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, who cannot read with ease. Currently, the copyright act does not have explicit provisions about converting material into acessible formats.

This February, HRD ministry put out a list of proposed amendments, including the ones that have sent the print-disabled into a tizzy. The amendments say only organisations registered under the I-T act and working for the disabled can apply to Copyright Board for licenses to convert material into digital formats [Section 31B (1). "Most converting is done by parents of disabled children, students and volunteers, not by organisations," says V Sivaraman, assistant professor, English department, Presidency College, Chennai.


"Perhaps our role on this planet is not to worship God-- but to create Him."

                                        --Arthur C. Clarke

(Rajesh Asudani)

Assistant General Manager,
Reserve Bank of India
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