The following entry is authored by our Summer Legal Intern, Joan Blazich, a rising 3L at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Joan has a PhD in music and previously was a member of the North Carolina Symphony.
Last week, we posted a brief summary of the TPP, and began debunking the more common myths or misconceptions about the trade agreement. In this post, we address the myth that the TPP will “lock-out” the deaf and blind.
TPP Myth: The TPP will “lock-out” the deaf and blind.
The TPP does not contain any provisions regarding the adaption of copyrighted materials for individuals who are deaf and/or blind. As discussed previously, the TPP does make clear that copyright owners enjoy exclusive rights in their works, and that these rights can only be altered by the copyright owner.
It is true that these rights technically extend to the copying and alteration of DRM-protected (digital rights management) works for use by those with aural/visual impairments, however, it is highly unlikely that the TPP will stop fair use provisions which permit libraries and educational institutions to alter such works for use by patrons who are deaf/blind. Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Act offers a fair use provision to libraries and educational entities that permits the copying of DRM-protected works in order to provide these works in alternative formats for patrons. As the TPP is a trade agreement that largely copies the text and format of prior trade agreements, it is a safe assumption that it will function much like these other earlier agreements. And, since no other prior agreements have changed the fair use provision permitting adaption of copyrighted works for those with visual or hearing problems via Section 110 of the Copyright Act, it seems highly doubtful that the TPP will change this provision now. In addition, the TPP will not replace current U.S. copyright laws, but rather will act as an enhancement on an international basis. As such, the TPP will not supersede U.S. fair use provisions permitting alteration of copyrighted works for use by those with aural/visual handicaps.