House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Bill - continued          House of Commons

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New section 31C

37.     The proposed new section 31C defines what is meant by an accessible copy and visually impaired persons for the purposes of these sections.

38.     For the purpose of the Bill a definition of "visually impaired person" is used which ties in with the definition used in the Joint Industry "Copyright and Visual Impairment" Guidelines in which visually impaired persons are taken to include blind and partially sighted persons, those whose sight cannot be adequately improved by the use of corrective lenses, those who are unable through physical disability to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move their eyes. This will cover people who are print disabled as a result of rheumatoid arthritis and other physical impairments as well as blind and partially sighted people.

39.     "Accessible copy" is defined as a copy in any format which gives a visually impaired person equivalent access to the copyright work to a sighted person. The kinds of formats which would constitute an 'accessible copy' include large print, braille, Moon, an audio version (on tape or CD), a disk or electronic copy which can then be accessed using screen enlargement, braille or voice-out technology or any other format which would give visually impaired people equivalent access. Visually impaired people access information in a variety of different ways. The age of onset of disability, the amount of rehabilitation received and the facilities at the individual's disposal, among other things, influence the ways in which they are able to read. The definition of 'accessible copy' is not confined to specific media or formats because visually impaired people's needs are so diverse and because new formats might be devised and become available over time and this legislation needs to be future proof and flexible in that respect.

40.     The exception would still operate where a visually impaired person could read the original with difficulty - for example read a print book using a hand-held magnifier. In this case this would lead to reading at a much slower pace than a sighted person would so it could not be said to offer equivalent access. Also the exception will apply if there are parts of the copyright material that can only be read with difficulty.

41.     Reference to "equivalent facilities for navigating round the copyright work" allows those making accessible copies to include indexing or other navigational aids so that the visually impaired reader can find their place in the text.

42.     A copy which includes changes that were not necessary to enable a visually impaired person to read the work is not included in this definition. Nor is a copy which infringes the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work as provided by section 80 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act. Derogatory treatment refers to when things are added to, changed or deleted from the work which amount to it being 'mutilated' or distorted' or otherwise prejudicing the honour and reputation of the author.

Clause 2

43.     Clause 2 specifies that the Act will apply across the UK since copyright is a reserved matter and will come into effect on a day appointed by the Secretary of State.

FINANCIAL AND MANPOWER EFFECTS

44.     It is not expected that the provisions of this Bill will have any impact on public finance or manpower requirements. There may be minor workload implications for the Patent Office in terms of publicising notifications made to the Secretary of State under this Bill.

SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY APPRAISAL

45.      The Patent Office's 2001 consultation paper on the form of a possible exception to copyright law for visually impaired people included a Draft Regulatory Impact Assessment of three possible courses of action: Option 1, no Government intervention/rely on existing partial copyright exceptions, Option 2, implementing copyright exceptions as outlined in this Bill, Option 3, encouraging more comprehensive licensing arrangements. It concluded that Option 2, on which this Bill is based, would be of greatest benefit to visually impaired people while having an insignificant economic impact on copyright owners and those engaged in alternative format production.

 
 
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© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared: 13 March 2002