Ars reports on an international treaty being negotiated that would relax restrictions on versions of books made to be more accessible to blind people. Unfortunately, the MPAA and similar organizations have been lobbying aggressively to have the treaty strengthen copyright protections as well, and could derail the entire process. Quoting: "In principle, the digital revolution should have dramatically improved blind peoples' access to the world's information. ... Unfortunately, copyright law often stands in the way. Legal restrictions on circumventing digital rights management (DRM) technologies can limit the accessibility of e-books. And in some countries, libraries and other non-profits must seek permission from the creator of each work before producing accessible versions of books in other formats. Getting permission is a laborious process that, in practice, means that only a small fraction of available works is ever converted into accessible formats. ... The pending WIPO treaty would change that. It has two core goals that everyone we talked to supports in principle: requiring countries to enact an exception for blind people similar to America's Chaffee Amendment and allowing nonprofit organizations that help blind people to share accessible works across international borders. ... Negotiators had already excluded audiovisual works from the treaty in order to placate the movie studios. But to the frustration of treaty advocates, Hollywood has gotten involved in the negotiations anyway."
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