The Interface of Copyright and Human Rights: Access to Copyright Works for the Visually Impaired
Posted: 26 Apr 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2015
Reproduction of copyright protected material in formats that are accessible to the blind and visually impaired persons constitutes a copyright infringement unless there are specific limitations and exceptions in place. Most countries do not have copyright limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the visually impaired in their copyright laws. This has contributed to the issue of book famine, meaning the unsatisfactory access to copyright protected material for the blind and visually impaired. This thesis examines the claims of the visually impaired for improved access to copyright protected works in the context of the interface of human rights and intellectual property rights. This research demonstrates that insufficient access to copyright protected material is discriminatory against the visually impaired and negatively affects their human rights such as the right to education, information, health, employment, culture, and science. Moreover, the thesis analyses the international and domestic copyright law’s impact on the needs of the visually impaired. In analysing the international copyright law, the thesis evaluates the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities. Highlighting the insufficient consideration for the rights of the visually impaired in domestic and international copyright laws including the Marrakesh Treaty, the thesis proposes adoption of a human rights framework for copyright law to the extent that it affects the human rights of the visually impaired. Such framework requires copyright law to accommodate those human rights of the visually impaired that are dependent on access to copyright protected material. The thesis offers two categories of measures for creation of a human rights framework for copyright to the extent that it affects the human rights of the visually impaired. The measures include optimisation of already available options and adoption of new mechanisms. The first category discusses minimum mandatory copyright limitations and exceptions and the possibility to harmonise them. The second category covers extra measures such as clarifying the implications of different human rights and copyrights in the context of the book famine; ensuring compatibility of human rights and copyright when adopting policy and law; and, regular monitoring of the impact of copyright law on human rights.
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