Access to Books: Human Rights, Copyright and Accessibility

  • Abigail P. Rekas
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8011)


This paper will explore the tension between the right to read (ensuring intellectual property does not create an unreasonable barrier to access) and the protection afforded to literary works by copyright, particularly how copyright policy can limit access to content. Using statutory analysis of international copyright law and human rights law, it will look at the way Human Rights treaties have addressed intellectual property in the past, and will compare them to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This will be followed by a discussion the proposed World Intellectual Property Organization Treaty on Limitations and Exceptions for Visually Impaired Persons/Persons with Print Disabilities and how this proposed treaty will increase access to content for persons with disabilities. The conclusion of this analysis is that copyright policy must evolve in order to keep up with technology to enable equal access to content for persons with disabilities.


WIPO Accessibility Copyright Exceptions Limitations UNCRPD Human Rights Visually Impaired Print Disabled Disability Dyslexic Access to Knowledge Access to Content 


  1. 1.
    UN Resources: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 26, 27, 29 G.A. Res. 217 (III) A, U.N. Doc. A/RES/217(III). (December 10, 1948); Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, arts. 21, 24, 30, G.A. Res 61/106, U.N. Doc. A/RES/61/106. (January 24, 2007) [UNCRPD]; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (ICESCR) art. 15.1(c), Adopted December 16, 1966, 993 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force January 3, 1976); Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, as adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights art. 5 (June 25, 1993); Intellectual Property Rights and Human Rights, Sub-Comm’n on Human Rights Res. 2000/7 par. 3, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/RES/2000/7 (August 17, 2000) (Res. 2000/7) Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    U.S. Const. art. I, § 8 Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    WIPO Resources: WIPO, SCCR, Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for the Visually Impaired, 12, 15th Sess., SCCR/15/17 (September 11-13, 2006) [Sullivan Study]; The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works September 9, 1886, as last revised at Paris, July 24, 1971, 828 U.N.T.S. 221 (Berne Convention); WIPO, SCCR, Draft text of an international instrument/treaty on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities, Special Session. SCCR/SS/GE/13/REF/SCCR/25/2 REV (February 22, 2013) Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, April 15, 1994, Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, Annex 1C, 1869 U.N.T.S. 299 (TRIPS)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abigail P. Rekas
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Disability Law & PolicyNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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