AFB Celebrates DMCA Exemption

Janina Sajka janina at
Tue Nov 4 16:46:28 EST 2003

                                   Librarian of Congress ruling is victory for people who are blind or visually impaired

                                           American Foundation for the Blind celebrates improved access to eBooks

    November 4, 2003 (Washington)--The Librarian of Congress issued a ruling last week supporting the right of people who are blind or visually impaired
   to gain full access to electronic books (eBooks). The ruling provides an exemption to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act DMCA), making it
    to circumvent any encrypted or protected features that render the text inaccessible for the specialized computer technologies used by people who are
                                                    blind or visually impaired to read electronic text.

   "This ruling upholds the fundamental right to read for all people," said Carl Augusto, President of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). "The
   emerging electronic book technologies have the potential to make published information more accessible and usable to people who are blind or visually
            impaired. By removing barriers to utilizing eBooks, the Library ensured all people can continue to enjoy the benefits of progress."

     This ruling is the result of a concerted advocacy effort by AFB to bring this issue to the attention of the Librarian of Congress. AFB originally
      requested the exemption in December 2002, and later provided testimony and evidence to show that approximately 50 percent of currently published
                                          eBooks are inaccessible for people who are blind and visually impaired.

   "This is a major victory, but there is more work to do," continued Augusto. "AFB will continue to work with Congress, the Librarian and publishers to
                                 ensure future titles are fully accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired."

        DMCA, which became U.S. law in 1998, makes it a felony to develop or use technology to get around security provisions of various classes of
                                   intellectual property including software, ebooks, DVD movies and audio, among others.

    The Librarians ruling provides an exemption for: "Literary works distributed in eBook format when all existing eBook editions of the work (including
   digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling of the eBook's read-aloud function and
                                       the enabling of screen readers to render the text into a specialized format."

       Additional information about the DMCA and on this ruling, including copies of all testimony, can be found on line at,


                                                                      Carrie Fernandez
                                                                     AFB Communications
                                                           212-502-7674 or [10]cfernandez at

                                                                       November 2003


   Published: 11-4-03

   Or use traditional mail services:
   American Foundation for the Blind
   11 Penn Plaza
   Suite 300
   New York, NY, 10001, USA


Janina Sajka
Email: janina at		
Phone: (202) 408-8175

Director, Technology Research and Development
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Chair, Accessibility Work Group
Free Standards Group

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