FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Librarian of Congress Says Blind Have Right to Access E-books

National Federation of the Blind Commends Copyright Ruling

Baltimore, Maryland (July 27, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest nationwide organization of blind Americans and the leading advocate for access to digital information by the blind, commented today on the renewal of a ruling from the Librarian of Congress that allows the circumvention of digital rights management (DRM) technology by blind people seeking equal access to e-books.  The ruling states that one of the circumstances in which circumvention of technology that limits access to copyrighted works is not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is: “literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.”

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind commends the Librarian of Congress for recognizing the right of blind Americans to obtain equal access to the information contained in digital books.  It is the position of the National Federation of the Blind that blind people have the right to access content for which they have paid or which they have otherwise legally obtained, just like all other readers.  We are pleased that the Librarian of Congress sees matters in the same way.  The e-book industry, however, has largely failed to recognize our rights.  The Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and other e-book reading devices and applications still remain inaccessible to us, and we have yet to see accessible e-book readers and content from those who have promised them.  At this time, Apple products that can access the company’s iBooks are the only mainstream e-book devices accessible to blind readers.  The National Federation of the Blind will continue to use every means at our disposal to secure the right of blind Americans to access the same books at the same time and at the same price as all other consumers.  We will stand for nothing less.”