D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Along with the Right toEducation Act, another Act is on its way to getting amended. The UnionCabinet has approved the introduction of the Amendment Bill to theCopyright Act, 1957 which will waive the copyright fees for convertingmaterial into special formats like Braille. But disabled rightsactivists are unhappy about the fact that the amendments have left outother special formats like audio books, etc.It may be mentioned that the Coalition for an
Inclusive Society hadsubmitted a representation to Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human ResourceDevelopment, on the need to ensure converting books into specialformats other than Braille and e-books. Otherwise many developmentaldisabilities like people with cerebral palsy, dyslexia, etc. whorequire other formats would be left out of the Act.
Rahul Cherian of Coalition for an Inclusive Society said, “Theamendment proposes to have a separate provision for conversion anddistribution of material into “non-specialised” formats such as e-textor audio. But it is appears that this provision is not automatic (likein the case of Braille) and applications would have to be made to theCopyright Board to convert and distribute these formats. This isclearly not satisfactory since this application system could be timeconsuming and cumbersome and will stand in the way of millions ofpeople who want to exercise their right to knowledge.”
“This is clearly discriminatory under Article 14 of the Constitution(Equality) since it treats persons with disabilities in adiscriminatory fashion,” he added. Nirmita Narasimhan of Centre for Internet and Society feels that theeffort of the Ministry should be focused more on mainstreaming personswith disabilities rather than trying to put them in a separate categoryand creating resources for them which do not cater to the public ingeneral.
“Ideally if persons with screen readers are comfortable readingdocuments in word, text, h.t.m.l. or other mainstream formats, oneshouldn’t impose the criteria of a specialised format here and makelife complicated for everybody since it is not required. An easysolution to start with would be to remove the word “specialised” beforethe word “format”. So it would essentially mean that conversion into aformat which is accessible to the person and not a generic definitionof specialised format should be followed,” she explained.
The provision also seems to be ambiguous on the point of safeguardsagainst Technology Prevention Measures (T.C.M.s.) and Digital RightsManagement (D.R.M.), she felt.