The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter, Day 14: Canadian National Institute for the Blind

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind was founded in 1918 and has grown into the primary resource of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. The issue of digital locks impeding access for the blind has already been raised in the House of Commons debates on C-11, since the exception for perceptual disabilities contains important flaws that may create significant barriers for the blind. The CNIB has expressed concerns about the rules as well:

Ironically, previous attempts to reform copyright have introduced measures that would potentially restrict accessibility by locking down content and locking out Canadians with print disabilities that use text-to-speech and other adaptive technology. While Bill C-61 did permit for Technical Protection Measures to be circumvented for non-infringing use, it outlawed the tools required to do so. More to the point, it is unreasonable to expect any consumer to have the technical savvy required to acquire and use circumvention tools.

CNIB recommends that business practices such as Technical Protection Measures, which restrict accessibility, not be enshrined in legislation. Rather, Canada should invest in a digital publishing industry that produces formats designed for universal access and broadens the market for its cultural products. However, if technical protection measures are legislated, then expand S.32 so that it recognizes that circumvention (and circumvention tools) are permitted when it is for the purpose of making material accessible to persons with perceptual disabilities.

The bill does include an exception for persons with perceptual disabilities, but many have noted that it is so restrictive (circumvention cannot “unduly impair” the TPM) as to still leave the blind without access.

Previous Daily Digital Locks: Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) BC, Canadian Consumer Initiative, Retail Council of Canada, Canadian Council of Archives, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Documentary Organization of Canada, Canadian Library Association, Council of Ministers of Education Canada, Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Canadian Historical Association

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