The U.S. District Court of Southern New York has ruled that providing access to digital format books is a “transformative use” under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ruling will allow university libraries digitizing their collections to make digital books available to the blind or visually impaired. The University of Michigan, for example, is planning to digitize 10 million volumes.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, (which joined the lawsuit to represent the interests of legally blind Americans) says, ““Access to the printed word has historically been one of the greatest challenges faced by the blind. The landmark decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York will revolutionize access to books for the blind. For the first time ever, blind students and scholars will have the opportunity to participate equally in library research. The blind, just like the sighted, will have a world of education and information at their fingertips. The National Federation of the Blind commends the court’s decision, which constitutes a significant step toward full and equal access to information by the blind.”