Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Canadian copyright reform for people with print-disabilities

Yesterday Industry Minister Candice Bergen introduced Bill C-65, the Support for Canadians with Print Disabilities Act  for first reading in Canadian Parliament.  The Act will allow Canada to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

Among other things, the bill would allow non-profit organizations acting for the benefit of persons with a print disability to create accessible-format works and provide those works (or access to those works) to people with print disabilities and to non-profit organizations acting for their benefit outside of Canada (s. 32.01 (1)) on payment of royalties set by regulation (s. 32.01 (4)).  It would also allow the circumvention of TPMs for these purposes (s. 41.16).  The Act sets out reporting requirements (32.01(6)) and requirements that contracts be put in place with outside organizations regarding the use of the works (32.01(7)(a)).

This is a welcome move.  It would facilitate access to books and other copyright materials around the world, allowing Canadian organizations to work with their counterparts in other countries to make works accessible.   It would also make Canada the first G7 country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.


  1. So what's your take on Canada's C-65 32.01(1)(b)(ii):

    (ii) a person with a print disability, in a country other than Canada, who has made a request to be provided with, or provided with access to, the work or other subject-matter through a non-profit organization acting for the benefit of persons with a print disability in that country.

    Does that jive with Marrakesh Treaty Article 5 2(b)?:

    (b) authorized entities shall be permitted, without the authorization of the rightholder and pursuant to Article 2(c), to distribute or make available accessible format copies to a beneficiary person in another Contracting Party;

  2. Thanks JEM,
    Interesting question.
    Do I understand correctly that the point of concern surrounds the fact that C-65 seems to authorize non-profits to provide a person access only through a second non-profit in the second country, rather than directly to a person, which Marrakesh would seem to contemplate in 5.2(b)?
    If so, I agree that C-65 seems more restrictive than Marrakesh appears to contemplate in 5.2(b). At the same time I also notice that 5.2 is a "may" clause, and I wonder whether it therefore technically also allows other ways of providing access, such as through a second non-profit.
    Interested to know your thoughts.

  3. It would appear to me that the Canadian proposal is not happy with the notion that an NGO in Canada could make a transfer of copyrighted materials to a person with a print disability in another country as it is difficult if not impossible for the Canadian NGO to verify that such person actually has an eligible disability.

    My point of reference for an NGO with maybe the most experience in this area is the Educational Testing Service (ETS) the College Board folks (LSAT?) and they have these procedures: