Copyright and Disability
Posted: 15 May 2019 Last revised: 30 May 2019
Date Written: May 1, 2019
This article aims to offer a definitive account of the under-explored relationship between disability and copyright law and policy. For more than a century, disability law has taken an interest in the accessibility of content to people with disabilities as a matter of civil and human rights — an interest that has magnified to a significant degree in the last two decades as content has proliferated on the internet and the opportunities and barriers to making copyrighted works accessible have multiplied. While copyright scholarship has taken a modest interest in disability issues, it has primarily done so in examining the narrow context of third-party generation of alternate format copies of literary works raised in the Chafee Amendment and the Marrakesh Treaty. However, the story of copyright’s role in making works accessible (or not) is simultaneously much broader and much more nuanced than the provision of specific exceptions and limitations to make books accessible to people with print disabilities. That more complicated story remains largely unexplored in both the disability and copyright literatures. This article aims to fill that significant void by offering a fuller account of the role of copyright law and policy and its interplay with disability law and policy in enabling and inhibiting the accessibility of copyrighted works for people with disabilities.
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