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Copyright and Publishing Roundtable

Copyright and Publishing Roundtable

Friday, March 21, 2003

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Hearing Room, Level 8
133 Castlereagh Street

10am - 3.00pm

1) Welcome and arrangements for the meeting

Graeme Innes, AM, Deputy Disability Discrimination Commissioner, welcomed
participants to the meeting, and expressed the Commission's pleasure that
so much good will and commitment had been observed during the preparatory
work leading up to the meeting. He noted that many problems impacting
on people with a disability are systemic issues, and may not be most effectively
resolved through individual complaints which, in the main, provide individual
solutions that do not have wider applicability. However, in areas such
as transport, access to premises, and access to information, making access
for one person generally results in access for all. The Commission has
been keen to work to address issues at a systemic level by developing
partnerships with industry groups. One example was the joint development
with the Australian Bankers Association of voluntary standards to make
electronic banking services accessible to people with disabilities. The
Commission looks forward to developing partnerships through the Copyright
and Publishing Roundtable, and to making progress through dialogue and

2)Attendance and apologies

Graeme Innes (HREOC)
Bruce Maguire (HREOC)
Darren Fittler (Blind Citizens Australia)
Libby Sturrock (National Information and Library Services, NILS)
Paul Stubing (Director, Information and Policy, Australian Vice-Chancellors'
Committee, AVCC)
Nicole Meehan (Acquisitions Editor, Humanities, Science and Health, Pearson
Education Australia)
Janice Fewin (Australian Publishers Association)
Barton Hoyle (Legal Officer, Copyright Law Branch, Commonwealth Attorney-General's
Melissa Willan (Copyright Agency Limited)
Libby Baulch (Executive Officer, Australian Copyright Council)
Elisabeth Wegener (Round Table on Information Access for People with Print
Disabilities Inc.)


Josie Howse (NSW Department of Education and Training)
Jane evans (Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities
Bet Dracoulis, National Library of Australia

3) Acceptance of the agenda

The Agenda was accepted as circulated, with the exception that the item
elating to the DDA complaint against HarperCollins was deleted because
the lodgement of papers in the Federal Court was still pending, and so
discussion of the complaint was still subject to confidentiality restrictions.

4) The Roundtable

a) Background, including reference to the Forum on Accessible
Tertiary Materials

As a result of a number of enquiries received early in 2002, combined
with DDA complaints lodged against the University of Tasmania, the Commission
decided to convene a national forum to consider ways of making curricular
materials more accessible for university students with a print disability.
The forum was held on May 29, 2002, with attendance of 35 of the 39 Australian
universities as well as the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, government
departments, consumer organisations and other stakeholders. On May 28,
a pre-forum session on copyright and publishing issues was held. The forum
developed a number of recommendations, including several dealing with
the related areas of copyright and publishing as they affect people with
a print disability.

The Copyright and Publishing Roundtable is thus partly a result of the
Forum on accessible Tertiary Materials.. However, its establishment also
reflects awareness throughout the disability sector that some longstanding
issues, as well as the challenges and opportunities created by new and
emerging information technology, can best be addressed through collective
discussion and action.

b) Name:

The proposed name, "Copyright and Publishing Roundtable", was

c) Membership:

Nicole Meehan indicated that Pearson Education Australia was happy to
b an ongoing member of the Roundtable. Barton Hoyle advised that Gabrielle
Mackey would represent the Attorney-General's Department at future meetings.
The meeting agreed that observers would be welcome to attend, provided
that sufficient space is available.

There was discussion about the desirability or need to broaden the current
Roundtable membership to include representatives from publishers of music,
the school and TAFE/VET sectors, and other disability groups such as people
with a physical disability. There was agreement that a larger group may
make it more difficult to achieve expeditious progress, and that the ready
availability of Roundtable minutes on the Commission website would provide
a satisfactory avenue for non-members to become aware of the issues that
were being discussed and to provide feedback and comment where they felt
inclined to do. It was added that there will be flow-on effects to other
groups from actions taken by the Roundtable irrespective of membership
of those groups, because many of the issues that will be dealt with by
the Roundtable have a broader focus than just one group.

The membership of the Roundtable was therefore confirmed as follows:

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission: Graeme Innes, Bruce Maguire
Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department: Gabrielle Mackey
Blind Citizens Australia: Darren Fittler
Australian Copyright Council: Libby Baulch
Australian Publishers Association: Janice Fewin
Copyright Agency Limited: Melissa Willan
Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee: Paul Stubing
National Library of Australia: Bet Dracoulis
National Information and Library Service (NILS): Libby Sturrock
Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc.:
Jane Evans

d) Secretariat support

HREOC noted that its Disability Rights Unit has very limited resources
to cover disability-related issues nationwide. It aims, wherever possible,
to assist in establishing procedures that allow committees such as the
Roundtable to become self-sustaining. HREOC is able to continue to convene
the Copyright and Publishing Roundtable, and to circulate relevant material
for the present, however, it would appreciate assistance with minute-taking.
It was agreed that this task would be rotated among members, and that
at the end of each meeting it would be decided who would take minutes
at the next meeting.

e) Purpose and Terms of Reference

The circulated Terms of Reference were accepted without amendment. HREOC
agreed to circulate the recommendations from the forum on accessible tertiary
materials, as not all members had received them and they are cited in
the Terms of Reference.

f) Decision-making and voting

The Roundtable's basic purpose is to work towards the achievement of
change in the areas of copyright and publishing in order to make materials
of all kinds more accessible to people with a print disability. In this
sense, the Roundtable does not merely have an advisory function, even
though it has no authority to bind its members, and that members would
need to use their own internal processes for operationalising decisions
that the Roundtable might make. The Roundtable is a cooperative enterprise,
and as such will proceed and make decision based on consensus.

g) Duration

It was agreed that the duration of the Roundtable would depend on the
rate of progress, and that an annual review of the Roundtable's purpose
and achievements is appropriate.

h) Reporting

HREOC noted that it is customary for minutes and materials relating to
groups in which it is involved, such as the Roundtable, to be made available
on the HREOC site once their content has been approved by members. It
is, of course, open to members to request that all or part of a discussion
on a particular item be unminuted.

i) Circulation of minutes, agendas and related materials
to members and others

HREOC will circulate material, and post minutes and other appropriate
material on its website.

5) Accessible formats: an overview (see attached information)

HREOC will circulate the appendix to the discussion paper that was released
prior to the forum on accessible tertiary materials, as this provides
an overview of accessible formats. It was noted that digital formats,
such as digital audio and electronic texts, have been developed as technology
has advanced, and that the traditional audio-cassettes are fast being
replaced by electronic formats as more effective means of studying information.
However, mainstream digital formats are not always accessible, as a result
of the use of digital rights management (DRM) techniques, for example,
the use of passwords to protect PDF files. In the Commission's view, PDF
is not an accessible format, even though some people who are blind or
vision-impaired and who have the appropriate software can access the text
of some PDF files. In any case, encryption and password-protection can
prevent access even in those cases where it might otherwise be possible.

6) Brief history of the development of co-operation
between publishers, copyright owners and people with a print disability
(Bruce Maguire)

There has been a history of good co-operation between copyright regulators,
the publishing industry and the print disability sector. Much of this
co-operation has been mediated by the Round Table on Information Access
for People with a Print Disability Inc., which was formed in 1981 by producers
of accessible-format material as a means of fostering co-operation and
collective lobbying. During the early- to mid-1990s, APA, CAL, and the
Australian Copyright Council regularly attended meetings of the Round
Table, and there was in-principle agreement by APA that publishers could
provide electronic files to producers of accessible-format materials such
as Braille, large print and E-text, to expedite the production process.
There was discussion of various legislative anomalies, such as section
135ZQ of the Copyright Act (amended 1989) that seemed to require producers
to destroy masters within three months. As a result of supporting submissions
from the copyright and publishing industry, the limitation was removed
in the amendments of 1998. In recent years there has been less direct
contact between the Round Table and the copyright/publishing sector. It
is hoped that the present Roundtable will once again see strong and effective
links between the two sectors.

7) Implications of the DDA for the publishing industry
(Graeme Innes)

HREOC presented a brief overview of the DDA. The Disability Discrimination
Act 1992 (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against people on the
ground of disability in certain areas, including access to premises, education,
employment, and the provision of goods and services. The Act uses a broad
definition of disability, and defines two types of discrimination, direct
and indirect. An example of direct discrimination would be requiring a
person in a wheelchair to use stairs to access a building, or requiring
a person with a print disability to use a print book in order to study.
Indirect discrimination is treatment that is, on the surface, not discriminatory,
but which nevertheless has a disproportionate negative impact on people
with a particular disability. For example, requiring a driver's license
as the only proof of identity discriminates against people who are blind
and hence cannot drive (obviously, some requirements will be inherent
to a particular task, and will thus not be discriminatory, for example,
a bus driver requires a driver's license). Both direct and indirect discrimination
can apply in the provision of information to people with a print disability.

The DDA operates mainly through a complaints process whereby individuals
who feel that they have been discriminated against can lodge a complaint
with the Commission, who will attempt to conciliate a solution between
the parties. Where conciliation fails, the person making the complaint
may take the complaint to the Federal Court. The court has the power to
make legally enforceable orders, and to determine what constitutes unjustifiable
hardship (which is a possible defense to a complaint alleging discrimination).

Discrimination in the area of information access is generally systemic,
in that if a book is not accessible to one person with a print disability,
it probably will also not be accessible to other people. The Copyright
and Publishing Roundtable thus has a systemic focus that goes beyond individual

8) International developments in copyright and publishing
affecting people with a print disability

a) The uk Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Bill

The UK Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Bill was introduced into
the House of Commons in July 2001, and has now become law (November 2002).
The law allows an individual with a vision impairment to make a single
accessible copy of a book or periodical without the need to seek permission
from the publisher or copyright holder, provided that they have lawful
possession or use of an original from which the accessible copy is to
be made. Organisations may make and distribute multiple accessible-format
copies, but they must comply with a licensing scheme if one exists. The
bill provides safeguards so that authors receive due acknowledgement but
that licensing schemes do not impose excessive conditions. The text of
the Act is online at

b) The US Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA)

The IMAA was put before the US Congress in 2002. The aim of the IMAA
is to ensure that K12 students with a print disability have access to
instructional materials in formats they can use at the same time such
materials are provided to students without disabilities by requiring US
states to develop and implement state-wide plans designed to meet this
objective. The Act was not passed before Congress rose in late 2002, but
it is hoped that its reintroduction this year will lead to a speedy passage
through the current Congress.

The IMAA would require publishers of instructional materials to prepare
well-structured, standardised electronic files in a prescribed format
corresponding to the print instructional materials they publish to facilitate
the production of accessible-format versions. The Act would also establish
and fund a national repository to be responsible for the receipt, cataloguing,
storage and distribution of the standardised electronic files provided
by publishers.

More detailed information about the IMAA is available at

9) Reports from members about significant current activities
with particular reference to print disability

CAL reported on progress in developing their database of materials produced
under the Statutory License provisions of the Copyright Act by organisations
producing accessible-format materials. The number of records is increasing,
and the database can be searchable on several fields. The aim of the database
is to minimise duplication and to allow producers to locate a greater
range of materials in particular subject areas, thus benefiting students
with a print disability.

10) Discussion of relevant recommendations from forum
on accessible tertiary materials (see attached list of recommendations):

It was noted that the overarching recommendation from the Forum Working
Group that considered copyright/publishing issues was that a group be
established to develop strategies for making progress, and hence the establishment
of the Copyright and Publishing Roundtable fulfils this recommendation,
notwithstanding that the Roundtable has a broader focus than just tertiary

It was agreed that specific issues arising from the other recommendations
of the Copyright and Publishing Working Group are covered elsewhere on
the agenda, and hence did not require further discussion in the context
of the Forum recommendations.

11) Copyright and Publishing: Key issues affecting people
with a print disability

There was general discussion about how best to consider these issues.
It was agreed that a valuable starting-point would be to compile a list
of questions and answers that have been or may be asked in regard to copyright/publishing
and print disability. This FAQ would include questions that have been
answered in the past but where the information may not have been widely
circulated, as well as questions that have no clear answers at present.
The compilation of this FAQ will provide direction as to which issues
should be addressed by the Roundtable.

HREOC agreed to circulate an email asking for questions. This email will
be posted to various email lists, such as the Austed-L list, the Round
Table listserver, and the Vip-L list. Australian Copyright Council agreed
to act as the collection point for these questions, email,
Submissions containing questions should use the subject line "FAQ
for Copyright and Publishing Roundtable". Discussion then took place
on the specific issues that had been placed on the agenda:

a) Limitations to the Statutory Licence exemptions in Section 135ZP-ZS
of the Copyright Act
i) For producers of accessible-format materials
ii) For universities assisting students with a print disability

b) Cataloguing and sharing of materials produced under Statutory Licence
The database being developed by CAL would serve as a useful resource for
universities, and the Roundtable agreed that it is an important initiative.

c) Procurement and use of electronic versions of texts to facilitate
production of accessible-format versions

The possibility was raised of APA developing a policy for circulation
to its members detailing what can reasonably be provided, and how this
might best occur. It was noted that there is currently considerable variation
in the way publishers respond to such request, and it was agreed that
standards or guidelines in this area would be beneficial. It was agreed
that the FAQ could include information about this area.

d) Compilation of a directory of publishers' staff with responsibility
for handling requests for electronic versions of texts

APA agreed to make publishers aware of their obligations under the Copyright
Act and the DDA, and to suggest that publishers designate a person to
have responsibility for dealing with issues related to print disability.

e) Uncertainty about the legality of individuals with a print disability
scanning books for their own or shared use

Questions about this will; be included in the FAQ, and there maybe a
need for further work to clarify the current situation and develop guidelines
or a code of practice to provide certainty for individuals.

f) Uncertainty about the legality of individuals and institutions using
procedures for circumventing Digital Rights Management when copyright
material would otherwise be inaccessible.

It was agreed that this is another issue for inclusion in the FAQ, and
on which further work may be necessary for the Roundtable.

It was noted that the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST)
are encouraging universities to procure information such as journals in
electronic format. AVCC agreed to investigate the possibility of linking
DEST systemic infrastructure funding to a requirement that such electronic
materials be accessible to people with a print disability (for example,
that there be a way of bypassing any encryption of PDF or other files).

g) Provision of electronic versions of texts to individuals with a print
disability by publishers

As above.

h) Development of national repository of publishers' texts

It was agreed that further discussion of this issue be deferred until
the next meeting.

i) Access to material contained in the US-based repository

It was noted that the WebBraille service operated by the Library of Congress
is also only available to US citizens. HREOC agreed to approach the relevant
bodies in the US with a view to establishing what would be needed in order
for Bookshare and WebBraille access to be made available to Australian
people with a print disability.

12) Celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the
passage of the DDA (March 2003)

HREOC reported that a series of well-attended and successful forums was
held across in Australia to mark the 10th anniversary of the promulgation
of the DDA. A publication showcasing achievements made by using the DDA
was also launched. It is available online at,
as well as in print and accessible formats.

13) Future meetings:

a) Frequency:

It was agreed that the frequency of meetings will depend on the progress
that is made. As a first step, it was suggested that the following timeline
be used in preparation for the next meeting:

  • Submission of questions for inclusion in FAQ by the end of April 2003.
  • Circulation of questions to Roundtable by May 9.
  • Responses from Roundtable members by May 23.

b) Venue:

It was agreed that Sydney would, in general, be the preferred venue for

c) Funding

BCA may require funding to allow its representatives to attend meetings.
If the venue is changed, it may be necessary for BCA to have alternate

14) Next meeting

Friday May 30, 10am - 3pm, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.


1) Australian Copyright Council to collate questions for FAQ

2) APA to prepare information for circulation to members regarding responsibilities
under the DDA and Copyright Act, and suggesting that there should be designated
contact person for dealing with print-disability issues such as requests
for electronic files.

3) AVCC to investigate the use of DEST infrastructure funding to encourage
universities to purchase electronic journals etc. that are or can easily
be mad e accessible, e.g., through removal of digital rights management.

4) CAL to continue working on database of materials produced under Statutory

5) HREOC to circulate requests for questions to form the basis for the

6) All Members to assist in circulating request for questions and compile