December 02, 2005 | Suw Charman Anderson

APIG DRM Inquiry: How important is access?

Point 5: To what extent should DRM systems be forced to make exceptions for the partially sighted and people with other disabilities? Should disabled people be exempted from DRM systems? How does DRM make life harder for people with disabilities? Are they discriminated against?

Comments (4)

  1. Suw Charman:
    Dec 19, 2005 at 12:15 PM

    Whilst you can continue discussing this post, any comments posted after this one will not be included in the ORG public consultation paper.

  2. Kevin Marks:
    Dec 21, 2005 at 12:41 PM

    DRM systems should make exceptions for everyone. They should warn but not enforce. The computer cannot know if I am partially sighted, or have other requirements for transformative software.

  3. J:
    Dec 06, 2005 at 10:52 AM

    I think existing legislation is adequate here. I'd like to hear from a DDA aware lawyer on what exactly it means, because from my point of view, the DDA is extremely untested in court, and no-one really has a clue what it means practically. The only people who talk much about it are lobbyists for the disabled, who are obviously partial to one side.

    I'm pretty sure it's legal (if ill advised) for me to decide to make my web home page one giant image so I can get just the font I want, even though this 'discriminates' against the disabled using screen readers.

    I kind of agree that this is possibly a stick we can beat DRM with, but I don't really have a problem with DRM from this particular angle.

  4. kenkil:
    Dec 05, 2005 at 09:49 PM says of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA):

    "The DDA makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.

    From 1st October 1999 a service provider has to take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services."

    These clauses would seem to be enforceable against companies whose DRM limits access for disabled people. No mention is made in the DDA of these rights being limited by the perceived need to prevent unauthorised copying.

    I admit to having to first hand of how disabled people access content.

    But I've read that one programmer was angered by DRM on an ebook, which, as a side-effect of preventing unauthorised copying, prevented his blind mother from using "screen reader" software to read the content aloud. The programmer went on to develop a circumvention technique for the ebook, and was prosecuted for his trouble.

    Output technology like screen readers, and Braille screens require access to a "clear" version of the content to present it to disabled people. Input devices like joysticks and pressure switches need to interact with applications via standard routes, which DRM may seek to disable.