Chafee access amendment
fpennell at u.washington.edu
Wed Jul 31 13:14:52 PDT 1996
This message from the National Council on Disability provides information
about a Bill that would mean more rapid access to written materials by
persons who use alternative formats. Francie Pennell
Senator John Chafee has introduced an amendment to the FY97
legislative appropriations bill that would facilitate more
extensive and timely production of accessible formats for people
with print disabilities. The following excerpt from the
Congressional Record provides the text of the amendment and his
National Council on Disability
Email: 74444.1076 at compuserve.com
Congressional Record dated Monday, July 29, 1996
Text of Amendment Offered by CHAFEE (R-RI) to H.R. 3754
AMENDMENT NO. 5119 (Purpose: To amend chapter 1 of title 17, United
States Code, to provide for a limitation on the exclusive copyrights
of literary works produced or distributed in specialized formats for
use by blind or disabled persons, and for other purposes)
Attributed to CHAFEE (R-RI)
AMENDMENT NO. 5119
(Purpose: To amend chapter 1 of title 17, United States Code, to provide for
a limitation on the exclusive copyrights of literary works produced or
distributed in specialized formats for use by blind or disabled persons, and
for other purposes)
Mr. CHAFEE. Mr. President, on behalf of myself, and Senators Frahm,
Stevens, Leahy, McConnell, and Bingaman, I send a printed amendment to the
desk. At the proper time I will ask that it be set aside.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Rhode Island (Mr. Chafee), for himself, Mrs. Frahm, Mr.
Stevens, Mr. Leahy, Mr. McConnell, and Mr. Bingaman, proposes an amendment
Mr. CHAFEE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the
amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment is as follows:
At the appropriate place in the bill insert the following new section:
SEC. . LIMITATION ON EXCLUSIVE COPYRIGHTS FOR LITERARY WORKS IN
SPECIALIZED FORMAT FOR THE BLIND AND DISABLED.
(a) In General.--Chapter 1 of title 17, United States Code, is amended by
adding after section 120 the following new section:
"Sec. 121. Limitations on exclusive rights: reproduction for blind or other
people with disabilities
"(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 710, it is not an
infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or to
distribute copies or phonorecords of a previously published, nondramatic
literary work if such copies or phonorecords are reproduced or distributed
in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with
"(b)(1) Copies or phonorecords to which this section applies shall--
"(A) not be reproduced or distributed in a format other than a specialized
format exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities;
"(B) bear a notice that any further reproduction or distribution in a
format other than a specialized format is an infringement; and
"(C) include a copyright notice identifying the copyright owner and the
date of the original publication.
"(2) The provisions of this section shall not apply to standardized,
secure, or norm-referenced tests and related testing material, or to
programs, except the portions thereof that are in conventional human
(including descriptions of pictorial works) and displayed to users in the
ordinary course of using the computer programs.
"(c) For purposes of this section, the term--
"(1) 'authorized entity' means a nonprofit organization or a governmental
agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating
training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of
blind or other persons with disabilities;
"(2) 'blind or other persons with disabilities' means individuals who are
eligible or who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled "An Act to
provide books for the adult blind", approved March 3, 1931 (2 U.S.C. 135a;
Stat. 1487) to receive books and other publications produced in specialized
"(3) 'specialized formats' means braille, audio, or digital text which is
exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.".
(b) Technical and Conforming Amendment.--The table of sections for chapter
1 of title 17, United States Code, is amended by adding after the item
relating to section 120 the following:
"121. Limitations on exclusive rights: reproduction for blind or other
people with disabilities.".
Measure Debated by CHAFEE (R-RI) and 3 others -- H.R. 3754
Congressional Operations Appropriations Act, 1997
Mr. CHAFEE. Mr. President, this is an amendment that I am offering on
behalf of myself and those Senators that I just listed.
This amendment is supported by the Association of American Publishers, the
National Federation of the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, the
American Printing House for the Blind, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic,
and the U.S. Copyright Office.
It also has the support of the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and we
are waiting for approval by the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee
Mr. President, the amendment I am proposing along with those Senators I
mentioned is an amendment to the legislative branch appropriations bill
regarding books for the blind.
In 1931, the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped was established by an act of Congress. Since
then, funding for this immensely valuable program has been included in the
legislative branch bill, which, of course, funds the Library of Congress.
National Library Service and a handful of nonprofit organizations reproduce
in specialized formats published material that is readily available to
sighted individuals in libraries, bookstores, newsstands and countless other
Specialized formats refers to braille, sound recordings--either on
cassette or phonorecord--and new digital formats that can be used for
software. To make certain that recorded books and magazines are only used by
those for whom they are intended, they are recorded at a speed that simply
does not work on standard tape players.
The National Library Service provides special tape players and record
players to eligible individuals. This equipment is not generally available
to the public. To be eligible to receive this special equipment, an
must be certified by a qualified professional such as a doctor, nurse or
social worker that he or she is unable to use standard print.
The National Library Service selects the books to reproduce in these
Frequently, the National Library Service issues request after request only
to wait months for a response from the publisher. These delays are not
because the publishers have a desire to withhold permission; it is simply a
low priority. They just set it aside.
There are still 17 books from the 1995 best seller list for which
permission is still pending.
For our Nation's more than 54,000 blind elementary and secondary school
students, this is a great problem.
The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY, is the
producer of braille textbooks. It is a challenge to reproduce today's highly
visible textbooks in braille format. Maps, charts, graphs, and illustrations
that take up one page in a standard textbook may require multiple pages of
braille or tactile graphics to convey the same information. All in all, it
can take a full year to produce a braille textbook. Added time consumed by
trying to get permission from publishers makes it certain that the blind
student is not in sync with his classmates.
The amendment Senator Frahm and others and I are introducing seeks to end
the unintended censorship of blind students' access to current information.
The amendment, as I say, is endorsed by the Association of American
Publishers, the National Federation of the Blind, the American Foundation
the Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, and the U.S. Copyright
This is a very simple amendment. This says groups that produce specialized
formats for the blind no longer are required to gain permission from the
copyright holder before beginning production. It is based on an agreement
that was reached last January between the Association of American Publishers
and the National Federation of the Blind. It includes a very narrow
definition of those who are eligible to undertake such production and
the definition for eligibility used by the National Library Service to those
who receive reproductions.
So, Mr. President, as has been said by a member of the National Federation
of the Blind, It should be obvious that the delays here present a
barrier which must be overcome if blind people are to be informed and
literate. It is not too much to say that living successfully in our modern
society often depends upon being able to communicate ideas and facts both
orally and in writing.
I conclude by a statement from Marybeth Peters, who is the Register of
Copyrights at the Library of Congress. In testifying before the Senate
Judiciary Committee she said,
Blind and physically handicapped readers have a legitimate need for prompt
and timely access as soon as possible after works become available to the
general reading public. Textbook materials in particular are commonly out of
date within 1 to 2 years, superseded by new editions.
Passage of this amendment will permit the speedy access to information
that blind people need.
It is my understanding the managers of the bill are prepared to accept the
amendment, but we are waiting for the approval of the ranking member of the
So, Mr. President, I thank the managers of the bill and hope that when we
receive the approval, as I expect we will, of the ranking member of the
Judiciary Committee, if I am not here, the manager of the bill might be able
to call up this amendment and have it considered in my absence.
I ask the manager and the ranking member of the committee, if we receive
the approval--the only thing we are waiting for is the approval of the
ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. If I could pass that on, when it
is received, to the managers, if they could then call up the amendment if I
am not here
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