Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Copyright: Are Deaf persons getting a fair deal? - Denise Rosemary Nicholson

Since 1998 the presenter Denis Nicholson has been lobbying for rights to copyrights for deaf persons. In her presentation the presenter will show why deaf persons are not getting a fair deal in regard to copyrights.

There are several national and international legal tools that can be used to lobby for equal rights, such as the UNCRPD and national South African laws, such as the anti-discrimination act.

World International Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Copyright is is a 'bundle' of exclusive rights that the law gives to authors and creators to protect their original works for a certain period of time. There is no international copyright law.

There are limitations and exceptions to the copyright, which in short means that the national legislators can decide what to have included in the national copyright law. Because of this the limitations and exceptions are different for each country.

All international organizations agree that there should be a balance between the copyright of the authors and the interests of the general public.

In SA the copyright expires 50 years after the author dies. This means that the work can be republished, or that it is transmitted in a different form and many other items. There are also limitations for educational purposes, such as a limited number of copies that can be made for the students in the class.

The presenter then continues to explain the issues in regard to copyright issues for deaf persons. For SA deaf people, mostly SASL is their first language. The way that deaf students learn is through a visual channel and through the use of SASL. Due to the limited number of materials in SASL the regular educational materials must be adapted for the deaf students, such as translating into SASL or adding more pictures or other graphics and then publishing it onto DVD or internet, or other visual publishing channel. Also adding audio commentary for hard of hearing students is not allowed or scanning the text or the pictures from the original is not permitted.

The above is not in accordance with the current copyright law in SA. That means that the materials cannot be translated into SASL because of the copyright that holds the original materials. This results in a very limited number of materials that is available for educational purpose for the deaf students. If the teacher wants to change this into SASL or visual form, they must request permittance from the author, which might result in a negative response or in costs that are asked for by the author, which they have any right to by the copright law.

DeafSA has to make sure that the right to translating or interpreting is included into the electronic licenses. This should also be ensured nationally and internationally. Also, as educators or other professionals in the field should ensure when they buy materials what the copyright on the materials is and what the purpose is of using that mataerial.

The presenter is urging the congress participants to lobby for  better rights for deaf users in relation to copyright laws and to strive for accessible formats for deaf people.

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