TLPC Files Comments on Behalf of Accessibility Coalition Before FCC on Interoperable Video Conferencing Services

Today, the TLPC filed comments on behalf of its client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and a coalition of more than 20 accessibility advocacy and research organizations before the Federal Commmunications Commission. The comments urge the FCC to proceed with ensuring the accessibility and usability of video conferencing services by finalizing a decade-long pending rulemaking on the scope of “interoperable video conferencing services” governed by the FCC’s rules under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

TLPC Develops White Paper Surveying U.S. Law on AI-Based Assistive Technology

TLPC student attorney and now-Colorado Law graduate Monica Bunnay authored a white paper surveying the state of AI-based assistive technology tools under U.S. disability law. Developed in collaboration with colleagues at Gallaudet University, the paper explains that U.S. disability law typically regulates AI-based assistive technology only indirectly by imposing requirements on users of the technology, and not the vendors who develop it.

TLPC Submits Comments and Reply Comments at FCC on Behalf of Accessibility Coalition

With the assistance of John Jang, Peter Troupe, and Victoria Venzor, the TLPC filed comments and reply comments on behalf of our client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) and a broad coalition of accessibility advocacy and research organizations urging the FCC to require improvements to the accessibility of closed captioning display settings. The comments and reply comments can be downloaded below.

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TLPC Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Accessibility, Security, and Repair Fair Users Urging DC Circuit to Strike Down Controversial Copyright Law as Unconstitutional

Led by Colorado Law student attorneys John Jang, Victoria Venzor, and Peter Troupe, the TLPC today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of a coalition of accessibility, security, and repair individuals and organizations, supporting the lawsuit of security researcher Dr. Matthew Green and others, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, over a controversial copyright law. The brief urged the court to conclude that Section 1201 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code, added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, violates the First Amendment by chilling fair uses aimed at making copyrighted works accessible to people with disabilities, researching security vulnerabilities in computer software, and repairing software-enabled vehicles and devices. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs) on copyrighted works, requiring accessibility, security, and repair organizations to pursue exemptions in a burdensome triennial rulemaking conducted by the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The brief details the substantive and procedural harms of Section 1201 and the rulemaking to the First Amendment rights of people with disabilities, disability services organizations and libraries, security researchers, and ordinary consumers and repair professionals.

TLPC Submits Comments on Carceral Communications Accessibility for Accessibility Coalition

(by Cameron Benavides, TLPC Student Attorney)

In consultation with HEARD and on behalf of our client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) and a coalition of numorous deaf and hard of hearing advocacy and research organizations, the TLPC filed comments and reply comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s pending proceeding on addressing the accessibility of communications systems in carceral facilities.

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TLPC Advocates Before the FCC for Equal Access to Communications and Video Programming

(by Dakotah Hamilton, TLPC Student Attorney)

On June 7th, the TLPC and the Communications and Technology Law Clinic (CTLC) at Georgetown Law filed a comment on behalf of 22 accessibility advocacy and research organizations, including TLPC and CTLC client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s public notice to revisit many of its rules under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The comment, drafted by Professor Blake E. Reid, TLPC Director, and Professor Laura Moy, CTLC Director, with assistance from TLPC student attorneys Dakotah Hamilton, Rachel Hersch, and Scott Goodstein and CTLC staff attorney Michael Rosenbloom and student attorney Ellen Gardiner, comprehensively reviewed the past decade of FCC proceedings implementing the CVAA as well as some dating back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, spanning more than two dozen dockets.

The comment identifies numorous specific priorities the FCC should consider for the accessibility of video programming, communications, and hearing device accessibility, including bolstering the availability of interpretation and captioning for video conferencing platforms and expanding captioning requirements for video distributed online. The comment also calls for dedicated inquiries into accessibility barriers facing people who are deaf or hard of hearing and have multiple disabilities, older people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and people who are deaf or hard of hearing and living on rural or tribal lands or in U.S. territories. The comment also urges the Commission to emphasize supervised multistakeholderism, centering the civil rights of people with disabilities, vigorous enforcement, and reporting to Congress.

TLPC Advocates for Expansion of Video Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Scott Goodstein, Colorado Law 3L)

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC—on behalf of the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-Text Providers (ATSP), along with ATSP’s past president Jason Kapcala and Jonathan Band of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), presented at the Eighth Triennial Section 1201 Rulemaking Hearing in support of the Proposed Class 3 exemption to the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201 prohibits users from circumventing technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows them to apply for and receive temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The petition for the Proposed Class 3 exemption was filed on behalf of ATSP and in partnership with the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and the LCA.

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TLPC Advocates for Expansion of E-Book Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC, on behalf of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and a coalition of other organizations, appeared at a hearing before the U.S. Copyright Office to urge expansion of an existing exemption from the the anticircumvention measures of Section of 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows the remediation of e-books into accessible formats. The expansions were designed to help the U.S. fulfill its obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The public hearing was one of the final stages in the eighth triennial rulemaking proceeding under Section 1201, which provides that the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, may adopt temporary exemptions to section 1201’s prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.

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TLPC Advocates for Broad Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Rachel Hersch, Colorado Law 2L)

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC, on behalf of its client the American Council for the Blind (ACB), and joined by a broad coalition of disability organizations, appeared at a hearing before the Copyright Office to urge adoption of a broad accessibility exemption from the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The proposed exemption would remove roadblocks to access to digital works for people with disabilities. TPMs limit people with disabilities’ access to digital works because TPMs often block assistive technology. For example, a person may be prevented from watching a lawfully acquired video because the video’s TPMs block color-shifting technology, which the person needs to be able to watch the video. The proposed exemption would allow that person to lawfully circumvent this TPM in order to utilize the assistive color-shifting technology.

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TLPC Files Comments in the Eighth Section 1201 Triennial Review

Today, the TLPC filed a series of comments in the Copyright Office’s Eighth Triennial Review of exemptions from the anticircumvention measures of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows stakeholders to apply for and receive broader temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The TLPC filed comments on four exemptions, one focused on security research and the other three on various accessibility purposes.

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