With the introduction of Bill C-11 last week, the government plans to move swiftly to pass its copyright reform bill, including restrictive digital lock rules that have been roundly criticized by many consumer, education, and business groups from across the country. As the bill winds its way through the legislative […]
Post Tagged with: "perceptual disabilities"
In light of yesterday's posting on the perceptual disabilities exception, which I argue creates a huge barrier for Canadians with disabilities since they will be unable to legally access devices that can be used to circumvent, it is worth considering whether Bill C-61 violates the spirit and letter of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (or will at a minimum necessitate a DRM accessibility standard). The AODA was enacted in 2005 with the goal of "developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025." The Act will set out policy, practices, and other requirements that remove barriers with respect to goods and services. It defines barriers as:
"anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice"
That definition would likely capture DRM and it definitely captures the combination of DRM and Bill C-61's anti-circumvention provisions.
Bill C-61 has the potential to impede access for all Canadians; however, one group may be particularly hard hit by widespread DRM use and the bill's anti-circumvention provisions. Those with print disabilities (called perceptual disabilities in the Copyright Act) rely on new voice technologies to gain access to works that they are physically unable to view. DRM can be used to limit or eliminate the use of technologies to read text aloud, thereby rendering it inaccessible for a segment of the population. Indeed, for those that think this is a mere fairy tale, one of the better known instances of "read aloud" restrictions involved the Adobe eReader, which restricted the reading aloud function for Alice in Wonderland.
The Copyright Act contains a specific provision to address access for the print disabled. Section 32(1) provides that: