ARCHIVED — Council onAccess to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians (CAIPDC)
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COPYRIGHT REFORM PROCESS
SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED REGARDING THE CONSULTATION PAPERS
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Submission from Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians (CAIPDC ) received on September 14, 2001 via e-mail
Subject: Comment on Copyright Reform
September 14, 2001Dear Sir/Madam:
I am writing as Chair of the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians to comment on the Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues. The National Librarian of Canada formed the Council in February 2001 to advise him on the implementation of recommendations made by the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. (Fulfilling the Promise: The Report of the Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, October 31, 2000 at http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/accesssinfo)
The World Blind Union, at its General Assembly in November 2000, endorsed a resolution, which stated in part:
Access to information is a fundamental right, recognized in Article 19 of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and implemented through free library services for all citizens in many developed and developing countries. The fundamental rights of blind people are therefore denied when access to the same information, freely available to the general public, is prevented by copyright regulations. It is not a contravention of copyright to make already published information accessible to those unable to read ordinary print because of a disability.
As the Government of Canada initiates a new round of copyright reform, it is imperative that the needs of the 3 million Canadians with a print disability (a figure that is growing with the aging of the population) be taken into account. It is estimated that only 3 to 4 percent of the world’s literature available to those who read conventional print is available to those who, with a print disability caused by a visual, physical or learning disability, must use formats such as large print, Braille, and audiotape. The inequitable access to information for print-disabled Canadians that currently exists in the ‘print on paper’ world must not continue in the digital environment. Technology promises many exciting opportunities to improve access to information for print-disabled Canadians. Morally and constitutionally, it is not acceptable that these improvements be constrained or curtailed by inadequate or inappropriate copyright law.
The Government of Canada must ensure that revisions to the Copyright Act ensure that print-disabled Canadians have equal opportunity to access digital content irrespective of its format.
As amendments to the Copyright Act proceed, it is incumbent upon me to draw to your attention two recommendations of the Task Force, that, although they are not exclusively digital issues, need to be addressed in legislation:
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek an amendment to Section 32 of the Copyright Act to include exemption for large print publications.
The Task Force recommends that Canadian Heritage seek an amendment to the Copyright Act to include exemption for the non-commercial narrative description of cinematographic works.
The Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians will be pleased to work with the Government of Canada to ensure that equitable access to digital and print-on-paper content becomes a reality, not just empty rhetoric. It is clear that the Government of Canada, committed to the objectives it has set out in A Framework for Copyright Reform, must address the issues of accessibility to information and knowledge for print-disabled Canadians, if its repeated assurances on equitable access for all Canadians are to retain credibility.
Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians.
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