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Librarian of Congress Says Blind Have Right to Access E-books

  • Published: 2010-07-31 : Author: National Federation of the Blind
  • Synopsis: Circumvention of digital rights management (DRM) technology by blind people seeking equal access to e-books.

National Federation of the Blind Commends Copyright Ruling.

The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest nationwide organization of blind Americans and the leading advocate for access to digital information by the blind, commented on the renewal of a ruling from the Librarian of Congress that allows the circumvention of digital rights management (DRM) technology by blind people seeking equal access to e-books. The ruling states that one of the circumstances in which circumvention of technology that limits access to copyrighted works is not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is: "literary works distributed in e-book format when all existing e-book editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book's read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format."

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind commends the Librarian of Congress for recognizing the right of blind Americans to obtain equal access to the information contained in digital books. It is the position of the National Federation of the Blind that blind people have the right to access content for which they have paid or which they have otherwise legally obtained, just like all other readers. We are pleased that the Librarian of Congress sees matters in the same way. The e-book industry, however, has largely failed to recognize our rights. The Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and other e-book reading devices and applications still remain inaccessible to us, and we have yet to see accessible e-book readers and content from those who have promised them. At this time, Apple products that can access the company's iBooks are the only mainstream e-book devices accessible to blind readers. The National Federation of the Blind will continue to use every means at our disposal to secure the right of blind Americans to access the same books at the same time and at the same price as all other consumers. We will stand for nothing less."

About the National Federation of the Blind - With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.

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