Authorship and Accessibility in the Digital Age

(cross-posted from Authors Alliance)

The Internet has opened up the opportunity for creators to reach worldwide audiences. Authors can transmit digital creations in a matter of seconds by simply uploading an article or ebook, sharing a video, or posting a blog entry. But authors can reach an even wider audience if their digital creations are accessible to those with disabilities. Notwithstanding significant strides made toward making digital content more accessible over the past decade, the prevalence of inaccessible digital content continues to be problematic.

Last fall, Authors Alliance, the Silicon Flatirons Center, and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology convened a group of content creators, technologists, attorneys, academics, and advocates to discuss the role of creators in making digital works more widely accessible to people with disabilities, reported by TLPC student attorneys.

The roundtable discussion focused on the unique role authors, educators, and libraries play in making digital works accessible; the benefits, obligations, and barriers around accessibility; the availability of authoring tools that facilitate accessibility; and the gaps for digital accessibility that technology and policy might fill.

That conversation led to the creation of the report, Authorship and Accessibility in the Digital Age, which distills these topics into a concise summary of the current landscape, as well as recommendations for further action. We gratefully acknowledge the support of Authors Alliance, Silicon Flatirons Center and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology in making the roundtable and the report possible. We also thank Angel Antkers, Susan Miller, and Sophia Galleher, student attorneys in the TLPC, for their role in authoring this report; and Rob Haverty at Adobe Document Cloud for his assistance in creating an accessible PDF.

Last Week in Tech Policy #68A: Who Needs the Right to be Forgotten?

(by Kristine Roach, Colorado Law 2L)

The right to erasure, colloquially known as the right be forgotten, has been adopted by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It gives individuals the right to have their personal data erased:

  • Where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected/processed.
  • When the individual withdraws consent.
  • When the individual objects to the processing and there is no overriding legitimate interest for continuing the processing.
  • The personal data was unlawfully processed (i.e. otherwise in breach of the GDPR).
  • The personal data has to be erased in order to comply with a legal obligation.
  • The personal data is processed in relation to the offer of information society services to a child.

However, the right is not absolute and the requestee can refuse to erase data of the requestor for the following reasons:

  • to exercise the right of freedom of expression and information;
  • to comply with a legal obligation for the performance of a public interest task or exercise of official authority.
  • for public health purposes in the public interest;
  • archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific research historical research or statistical purposes; or
  • the exercise or defense of legal claims.

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Fair Use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

(by Angel Antkers & Susan Miller, Colorado Law 2Ls—cross-posted from the Authors Alliance blog)

The fair use doctrine allows the unlicensed, unpermissioned use of a copyrighted work in certain situations. It functions, in part, to safeguard First Amendment interests in freedom of speech. But as the world moves toward more digital authorship and online content, fair use is encountering various obstacles.

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Last Week in Tech Policy: #60 Skating Around Copyright

(By Sophia Galleher, Colorado Law 2L)

First, think figure skating. Then, watch this—at minute 2:45 Jimmy Ma brings it, unzipping his jacket and giving a tongue wag à la Michael Jordan as his music breaks into a hip hop-electronic dance mix of “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. Surprised? Welcome to figure skating in 2018, where Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” are remnants of the past.

Ma’s routine epitomizes the impact of a 2014 rule change where the International Skating Union, in an attempt to inject life into a sport with waning popularity, agreed to allow skaters to use music backed by vocals in their routines. And the move has proven to be a success: within hours of his performance, Ma, an otherwise unremarkable figure skater—an 11th place finish at the U.S. National Championships in an Olympic year is hardly newsworthy—became an internet sensation, lighting up the Twitter feeds of both skaters and non-skaters alike. Ma’s routine is not alone. In 2017 a French pair team’s bone-chilling performance set to Disturbed’s rendition of “The Sound of Silence” went viral, generating over 30 million views.

But while the figure skating world is abuzz with excitement over the sport’s future, the 2014 rule change has simultaneously ushered in a host of copyright questions.

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TLPC Files Three DMCA Comments for Disability Services, Multimedia E-Books, and Security Research

Today, TLPC student attorneys filed three long form comments with the Copyright Office as part of the seventh triennial Section 1201 proceeding. Under Section 1201 of the DMCA, parties may petition the Copyright Office every three years to create or update exemptions when the DMCA adversely affects noninfringing activities.

Sophia Galleher filed a comment to enable better access to films and other copyrighted works for people with disabilities. Susan Miller and Angel Antkers, along with colleagues at the UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Art, and Technology (IPAT) Clinic, filed a comment to enable artistic expressions like fan fiction by expanding the allowed uses of multimedia e-books. Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov filed a comment to better protect good faith security researchers.

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How the Rightsback.org Termination of Transfer Tool Helps Authors

The following is a cross post from Authors Alliance’s blog, by Luke Ewing, student attorney at the Colorado Law Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic. Luke was helped by his classmates Sean Doran and Andi Wilt, and their supervisor Blake Reid, at Colorado Law; and law students Eric Malmgren, Erica Row, and Julia Wu, and their supervisor Jack Lerner, at UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic for their assistance with the development of the Termination of Transfer tool and templates.

Erica Row, Julia Wu, Pamela Samuelson, Mike Wolfe, Eric Malmgren, and Jack Lerner (not pictured: Sean Doran, Luke Ewing, Andi Wilt, and Blake Reid)

Authors Alliance and Creative Commons recently released the Termination of Transfer tool at rightsback.org. You may be wondering what the tool does and how termination helps authors. Along with many other beta testers, student attorneys at the Colorado Law Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic and the UC-Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic helped verify that the tool accurately reflects the state of termination law. We scoured statutes, regulations, and case history to determine what is required to make the termination process go smoothly under a wide range of circumstances. We also tested the tool to ensure that its results accurately reflect the current state of the law. Finally, we drafted a standardized form and written guidance that make the paperwork simple once an author decides to exercise their termination right.

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International Copyright Law and Accessibility

(by Colorado Law 3Ls Gabrielle Daley, Luke Ewing, and Lindsey Knapton)

Over the past two years the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic (TLPC) has worked with Professor Caroline Ncube of the University of Cape Town and representatives of member states  of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to prepare a study on the implications of copyright law for people with disabilities around the world.

The 35th Session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is fast approaching. This November 13-17, representatives from member states and non-governmental organizations from around the world will gather in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss international copyright policy. During this meeting, our team will present the findings of the study we’ve spent the better part of the last year preparing. As the November meeting nears, this post discusses the work we’ve done to date.
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TLPC Files DMCA Exemption to Ease Making Video Accessible in Educational Settings

Last week, the TLPC continued its efforts to make copyrighted works more accessible to people with disabilities. On behalf of the TLPC’s client, the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-text Providers (ATSP), as well as the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) TLPC student attorneys Sophie Galleher, Angel Antkers, and Susan Miller filed a petition for an exemption from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that would allow disability services offices, organizations that support people with disabilities, libraries, and other units at educational institutions to circumvent technological protection measures on videos to make them accessible, including through closed and open captions and audio description. The exemption will allow disability service offices, educational institutions, and libraries to better fulfill their legal and ethical obligations to make visual media more accessible to people with disabilities. The TLPC filed the petition as part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s triennial review of exemptions from the anti-circumvention measures in Section 1201.

TLPC Files DMCA Exemption Renewal for Security Research

(by Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov, Student Attorneys)

TLPC Files DMCA Exemption Renewal

This week, TLPC student attorneys Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov filed a petition with the Copyright Office to better protect good faith security researchers. The petition, along with another filed earlier this summer, seeks to renew and modify an exemption from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits circumvention of technological access controls (such as digital rights management (DRM)) to copyrighted material. The modification specifically seeks to limit the potential risk of liability that good faith security researchers face in their work to protect consumers from security breaches and other harm. The TLPC filed the comment on behalf of the TLPC’s clients Prof. Ed Felten and Prof. J. Alex Halderman, who are both computer scientists whose research includes computer security and privacy.

TLPC Files DMCA Exemption Renewal and Expansion Petition for Multimedia E-Books

This week, TLPC student attorneys Sophie Galleher, Angel Antkers, and Susan Miller filed with our colleagues at the UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Art, and Technology (IPAT) Clinic a petition with the Copyright Office seeking to expand an exemption from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis. The petition asks to modify the exemption to include fictional multimedia e-books, multimedia e-books on subjects other than film analysis, and removing the limitations that refer to screen-capture technology.  The TLPC and UC IPAT team filed the petition on behalf of the TLPC’s client, Authors Alliance, as well as Professor Bobette Buster and the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) as part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s triennial review of exemptions from the anti-circumvention measures in Section 1201.