Print impaired people, wherever they are in the world, should be able to read the same published books that sighted people have access to. Ideally these books should be available at the same time and not at a higher price than others.
Over recent decades, the majority of accessible versions of books have been produced by charitable organizations (“trusted intermediaries” or “TIs”) that provide library membership services to people with visual impairments. Generally, these were narrated audio books on tape or CD, or hard-copy Braille or large print books produced using national copyright exceptions or licenses. Braille or large print books have traditionally been produced by scanning purchased copies of the original print version and editing them to the required format.
However, the digital era is now enabling great advances in how books in ‘accessible’ formats can be produced and distributed. While TIs operating in many countries throughout the world continue to build their collections of accessible books, publishers are now also able to produce accessible versions themselves.
Publishers, RROs, TIs and the UN organization WIPO2 are working together to enable greater availability of ‘accessible books’ throughout the world. THE TIGAR PROJECT
TIGAR (Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources) is establishing a global, virtual online catalogue of books produced in accessible formats that can be exchanged across national borders for print impaired people. Accessible versions3 of books produced by Trusted Intermediaries in many languages can be shared electronically across national borders using TIGAR’s technical and copyright solutions. The project, which has the strong support of the international publishing industry4, requires the permission from rights holders to allow this exchange of electronic files.
The project will significantly widen the choice of accessible versions of books available to print impaired people in each participating country and will also facilitate more efficient production of new accessible versions by reducing duplication amongst TIs.
As an example, Kari Kummeneje of The Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (a TIGAR TI), explains: ’A research student in Norway needed an accessible version of a scientific book called Essential Cell Biology for her studies. It didn’t exist in Norway but, through the TIGAR project, a DAISY audiobook was found in the collection of Learning Ally in the USA and supplied, with the support of CRC Press, through the WIPO technology solution. This demonstrates the real impact TIGAR can have on the lives of print-impaired people.’
TIGAR LICENSING FRAMEWORK
The TIGAR Memorandum of Understanding6 (MOU) forms the licensing solution for TIGAR. Participating rightsholders and TIs in every country each sign the MOU.
The MOU sets out the conditions for the exchange of copyrighted materials across national borders and requires permissions to be granted by rights holders on a title-by-title basis. Permission is only required to allow cross border exchange of the electronic files of accessible versions of books that have already been produced by a TI. Such accessible versions will have already been produced legitimately under copyright exception or license for distribution to print impaired people within a TI’s country.
In many countries, RROs, publishers associations and author societies already work with TIs to provide collective rights management services and, if mandated by publishers and other rights holders, can sign the MOU and either provide permissions on their behalf or manage the permission clearance process for them. Alternatively, publishers may prefer to sign the MOU and grant permissions directly.
The permission clearance process is centrally coordinated by the TIGAR ‘Permission Clearance Coordinator7 (PCC) who will give specific guidance to publishers or RROs when they join the project. The PCC receives requests from TIs and then contacts the relevant publisher or RRO to ask for permission for their title(s) to be exchanged through TIGAR. If the publisher or RRO is unable to grant permissions for all territories, the PCC will work with them to find and contact the primary rights holder to seek their permission. The PCC will ask for a ‘global’ permission so that any TI that is already within the TIGAR network or may subsequently join will be able to receive the accessible version of the book.