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More on a "Copyright of Way" for Video Description

posted Apr 9, 2014, 1:18 PM by Jennifer Justice
Do you have questions about video description and copyright law? Mark Richert, Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, analyzes the current legal landscape in An Appropriate "Copyright of Way" for People with Disabilities: How Would You Describe It?

“It should be so simple. If people who are blind or visually impaired want to enjoy video content — television programs, major motion pictures, popular online multimedia, educational materials, and on and on, they should certainly be able to do so on terms of genuine equality. And if their access to such content depends on, or can be enhanced through, the description of the on-screen visual elements via voice-over narration, such description should be provided. And if the creator of the original content does not provide description or provides insufficient description, others should be allowed to provide it. And if other people with disabilities can benefit from the described content, they too should be allowed to enjoy it.”

According to current US copyright law, the Chafee Amendment makes provisions for third party creation of accessible materials of existing literary works. To date there is no specific provision in regards to the production of accessible content for use with audiovisual works. Nevertheless, policy analysts argue that supplementary accessible features or content created for use by people with disabilities in tandem with existing audiovisual works should be considered fair use. Given the widespread use of streamed audiovisual content by blind/ disabled Internet users, the adoption of such fair use provisions appears imminent. Never before have blind/ disabled consumers of video description had so many choices when accessing audiovisual content along with their peers!