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Copyright guide launched for blind and visually impaired

Blind SA and Section27 have drawn up a guide to Accessible Format Shifting, following a Constitutional Court victory last year.

Constitutional Court victory in September last year, declaring the Copyright Act unconstitutional for limiting access to reading materials in accessible formats for persons who are blind or visually impaired, has prompted Blind SA and Section27 to draw up a guide to accessible format shifting.

It is titled #ENDINGTHEBOOKFAMINE for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired and was launched at a Right to Research Conference at the University of Pretoria this week.

A panel of experts dissected the guide and discussed the implications of the Constitutional Court Judgment which declared the Copyright Act unconstitutional. 

The Constitutional Court has declared the Copyright Act of 1978 unconstitutional and invalid because it limits access to literary and artistic works in accessible formats. The Court granted an immediate exception to copyright for persons with disabilities, allowing them to convert literary and artistic works into accessible formats without obtaining authorisation from the copyright holder.

Previously, as a result of the Copyright Act of 1978, people with disabilities would need to get authorisation from copyright holders to convert books into formats they could read. The Constitutional Court has now removed this requirement. This opens the door for persons with disabilities, improving access to books and other printed published works.

The Constitutional Court aims to remove the historical gap in access to books, as well as other literary and artistic works, between persons with disabilities and those without. Accordingly, people with disabilities must be granted the same access to books and other literary and artistic works as people without disabilities.

* Read the full guide here.

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